Pentagon Delves into Vaccine Mandate for Oklahoma National Guard

Oklahoma National Guard troops will not be able to circumvent the military mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Pentagon says, but it is unclear who will hold them accountable for the rule and what penalties, if any, will be imposed.

A defense official on Wednesday reiterated the department’s message that it has the authority to require vaccinations for troops in the name of medical readiness, a response to Oklahoma leaders who have stood firm in their promise that they will not enforce the mandate vaccinations for your guards.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd AustinLloyd Austin Overnight Defense & National Security – Presented by Boeing – Major Weapons Tests in Russia Fuel Tensions Pentagon Says Oklahoma National Guard Must Follow Vaccine Mandate Judge Rejects Sidney Powell’s Challenge to Vaccine Mandate Pentagon MORE “It can establish a medical preparation requirement that applies to members of the National Guard,” the official told reporters, adding that if members do not maintain such preparation, “it could jeopardize their status in the National Guard.” .

“Whether or not a governor enforces that on his own authority is another matter, but [it] in no way does it exempt members of the National Guard from complying with the medical preparation requirements established by the Secretary of Defense and the secretaries of the military departments ”.

Austin announced in August that the coronavirus vaccine would be mandatory for all troops and, in mid-September, put the mandate into effect, although the deadline for receiving the inoculation varies by branch.

The National Guard deadline is June 30, but the Air Force and Army require Airmen and Guard troops to comply by November 2 and December 15, respectively, to allow them to mobilize for federal orders.

However, the Oklahoma National Guard fell apart when it rejected the mandate earlier this month after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (right) unexpectedly toppled his previous boss. Instead, Stitt appointed Army Brig. General Thomas Mancino to serve as adjutant general of state and commander of the National Guard. He then ordered Mancino to write a memorandum stipulating that no member of the Oklahoma National Guard should be vaccinated.

At the core of the problem are two separate laws: Title 32 of the United States Code, which stipulates that the governor of a state or territory has the power to mobilize his Guards unless those troops and airmen are activated for a mission. federal; and Title 10 of the United States Code, where the president can mobilize the Guard, placing it under federal authority.

Stitt’s reasoning is that, as head of his state’s Guard, he has the power to enforce policy while troops are in state service.

“Until a guard is activated under Title 10, they follow the legal orders of the governor of the state of Oklahoma, who has not ordered the [COVID-19] vaccine for members of the Oklahoma Guard, ”the state Guard said in a statement Saturday.

But the Pentagon press secretary John kirbyJohn KirbyOvernight Defense & National Security – Presented by Boeing – Senators to accept defense bill on Wednesday The Pentagon accuses Iran of ‘unsafe’ conduct after it approached the US warship Russia dismisses US concerns about space debris after weapons test MORE He said Tuesday that the guards, while under Title 32, still must meet federal requirements to go to schools, train and deploy.

“The secretary has the authorities that he obviously needs to establish the mission requirements to defend this nation and the mandate for the vaccine is within those authorities,” Kirby told reporters.

However, it is still unclear how the Pentagon can force the Oklahoma guards to get vaccinated and how it can hold the troops and their chains of command accountable.

“I am not going to speculate on how the department might take action in the future,” the defense official said Wednesday.

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