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Oklahoma Governor Puts Foe of Vaccine Mandates in Charge of National Guard

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The governor of Oklahoma this week dismissed the state’s highest rating navy official, a vocal backer of Covid vaccinations, changing him with a normal who instantly issued orders that contravene federal vaccine necessities for navy personnel.

The governor, Kevin Stitt, is one of a quantity of Republican state officers throughout the nation who’ve been combating towards President Biden’s vaccine mandates, which cowl federal workers, federal contractors and the navy.

The state’s newly appointed adjutant normal, Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino, launched a memo on Thursday that learn, in half, “I hereby order that no Oklahoma Guardsmen be required to take the Covid-19 vaccine, notwithstanding any other federal requirement.”

The memo additionally famous that the state would proceed to contemplate purposes for vaccine exemptions, although up to now federal navy authorities have granted only a few. It additionally stated, “no negative administrative or legal action will be taken against Guardsmen who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine.”

It remained unclear if General Mancino’s coverage would run afoul of the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate. In August, the secretary of protection, Lloyd J. Austin III, stated all active-duty navy members should instantly get a Covid-19 vaccine. The directive lined members of the armed forces “on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard.”

General Mancino issued the memo a day after Mr. Stitt unexpectedly dismissed Maj. Gen. Michael C. Thompson as adjutant normal.

General Thompson, a 38-year navy veteran and the Army state guard’s first Black normal, stated that Mr. Stitt had been pressuring the state’s navy officers to counter the federal vaccine necessities and stated that his personal stance was to as an alternative warn state troops that there “are consequences” for refusing the vaccination order.

He stated the governor supplied no rationalization when he referred to as Wednesday to alleviate him of command.

“It’s political,” General Thompson stated. “There’s not another reason for it.”

The governor’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

General Thompson stated the dearth of vaccinations would negatively have an effect on the National Guard’s troop readiness. “I hate to see us not meet the mark when we need to,” he added.

Lt. Col. Geoff Legler, the general public affairs officer for the Oklahoma National Guard, stated that Mr. Stitt was working on the precept that he had “complete control” of the pressure inside the state.

However, the officer famous, National Guard members who attend federally funded colleges in Oklahoma had been nonetheless topic to the federal vaccinate mandate.