Davis Winkle at the Army Times describes what might be at the heart of the “Oklahoma [National] Guard’s vaccine defiance” of a federal mandate. He recounts a long history of governors attempting to assert their authority over their states’ National Guards. Winkle says that though states have had limited success, the feds usually prevail, but this instance might differ.
At issue are the 8,800 soldiers and airmen of the Oklahoma National and Air National Guards. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appear to be “at an impasse.”
The dispute became public when the governor replaced his top general with a new adjutant general who “issued a memo declaring that ‘no Oklahoma Guardsman will be required to take the COVID-19 Vaccine’ while in state-controlled status.” What makes the situation sticky is the Guard’s “unique status as a state-controlled militia” that has federal rules and funding.
According to the article, under Title 32 of the U.S. Code, the Guard is mostly under state control. This includes “enforcement of medical readiness….” The feds disagree. Simply put, “the Oklahoma National Guard and the Pentagon” each believes it has the authority to order soldiers to get the vaccine or to protect soldiers from being forced to take it.
The Democrat administration believes any vaccine mandate resistance is political, and others contend forcing a vaccine mandate on troops is political. Jeff Schogol’s argument in a piece at Task & Purpose bolstered the latter argument. The writer asserts the OK National Guard adjutant general is endangering soldiers’ lives and prolonging “this miserable pandemic.”
However, regardless of his technical arguments supporting the mandate, his view may be imbued with a partisan political slant. For instance, Schogol seems incensed that Gov. Stitt evoked “personal freedoms,” such as religion and conscience, in defense of the Guard members.
Worldwide scientific data and general observations unequivocally show young, healthy people, like soldiers and students, are at very low risk from the CCP virus. Dr. Scott Atlas, a professor of medicine at Stanford University and former Trump Coronavirus Task Force advisor, recently decried vaccine mandates, especially for low-risk Americans.
Sitting for an extended interview on Tucker Carlson Today, Dr. Atlas noted that he was the only member to express dissenting views and routinely present objective scientific papers during his stint on the task force. The meetings, headed by VP Mike Pence, whom Atlas said encouraged him to state his mind, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and Dr. Robert Redfield. Atlas described them as perennial political “bureaucrats,” which also bolsters an argument for the political nature of the mandates.
Schogol cites Eugene Fidell, an NYU military law professor who “described Stitt’s comments about protecting the personal freedoms of Oklahoma National Guard troops as a ‘dog whistle’ that is meant to appeal to former President Donald Trump and his supporters.” “Dog whistle” is an often deployed leftist, anti-conservative phrase.
Fidell declared, “this is Trumpism manifesting itself in the Guard.” There seems a valid argument this declaration denouncing service members who support the Republican over the Democrat leader as somehow seditious seems overtly political.
Gov. Stitt nominated Army Brigadier General Thomas Mancino to become Oklahoma’s new National Guard adjutant general. Gen. Mancino is awaiting state Senate confirmation. One of Gen. Mancino’s first policy memos, which ignited this issue, said he would not enforce the federal mandate in “apparent rejection of DoD’s orders to discipline and ultimately discharge service members who reject the vaccine.”
According to Winkle, “It is not clear whether [Gen.] Thompson was fired because he refused to rescind a policy memo requiring troops to get the COVID-19 vaccine….” The general referred any questions to the governor’s office.
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