Pentagon Ups the Ante in Jab Standoff, Threatens Oklahoma Guard

After weighing in on Monday on Oklahoma National Guard’s decision to defy President Biden’s controversial military vaccine mandate, the Pentagon has warned on Tuesday that all member of the US National Guard will face disciplinary action if they do not get the mandatory Covid-19 shot.

The 45th Infantry Brigade Commander of Oklahoma’s National Guard, Brigadier General Thomas Mancino, told his soldiers last week that they can refuse Covid-19 vaccination without facing any negative administrative or legal action.

Mancino was appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who earlier this month requested Secretary Austin to give Oklahoma a reprieve from the jab mandate, stressing that it violates the personal freedoms of Oklahomans by asking them to sacrifice their personal beliefs in order to keep their jobs.

According to Stitt, nearly 10% of Oklahoma’s Army and Air Guard refused to be inoculated which could limit the number of troops that can serve.

It’s worth noting that neither Stitt nor Mancino voiced any issues with more than a dozen other vaccines mandated for Guardsmen.

Despite the state’s announcement, the Pentagon stressed that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has the final authority since even the state National Guard members were beholden to the secretary of defense’s orders like any other US military body.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby warned that National Guard members that by refusing the COVID vaccine – which is a lawful order – absent an approved exemption, they place themselves in the same potential as active-duty members who refuse the vaccine and would be punished.

Kirby noted that even in a Title 32 status, when the National Guard members are under the command of state governors, they must abide by the Pentagon’s vaccination mandate, since the force is federally-funded.

Yet, it remains unclear whether the Pentagon has the clear legal authority that it claims to force vaccinations and how the dispute might play out since, according to Anthony Kuhn, managing partner at Washington, D.C. – based Tully Rinckey law firm, the state force is specifically a state force and does not necessarily work for the federal government.

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