The Department of Defense will respond appropriately to the Oklahoma National Guard's decision to cancel the Pentagon's requirement that service members receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
Driving the news: We are aware of the Oklahoma Adjutant general's memo regarding COVID vaccinations for Guardsmen, and the governor’s request to be exempted. "We will respond to you appropriately," John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, told Axios.
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"That being said, Secretary Austin believes a vaccinated force makes a better force. Kirby said that he ordered mandatory vaccinations for the entire force, which includes our National Guard who are important to national missions at home as well as abroad.
After Brig. The requirement was "rescinded by Gen. Thomas Mancino," who is now in charge of the Oklahoma National Guard.
Mancino cited a letter from the governor to Defense secretary Lloyd Austin, asking DOD to "immediately reconsider suspending the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for Oklahoma national guardsmen."
Oklahoma Gov. Mancino stated in a memo dated Thursday that Kevin Stitt (R), is "awaiting a decision" from Defense secretary.
According to the memo, "No negative administrative action or legal action against Guardsmen who reject the COVID-19 vaccination will be taken."
The big picture: Mancino was chosen by Stitt earlier this week to replace Gen. Michael Thompson. He had previously supported COVID-19 vaccinations, and stated that members who don't receive the vaccine would be advised about alternative options.
Thompson revealed to reporters that he found out he was relieved via social media.
A spokesperson for Stitt, a vocal opponent of the Oklahoma National Guard vaccine requirement, stated to AP that Mancino's hiring was not due the vaccination policy.
According to spokesperson Carly Atchison, "The governor had been considering making a change for a few months" and Thompson had submitted his resignation in October. The change will take effect in January.
Thompson stated to the Tulsa World, that Thompson had been asked by the governor for his resignation in October. However, they agreed that he would continue in office until January.
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