The Oklahoma National Guard said unvaccinated pilots could not participate in exercises a few days after a federal judge rejected the state’s bid to block the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for National Guard members.
Brig. General Thomas Mancino, head of the State National Guard, acknowledged Tuesday’s court ruling in a message to the force, though he said the ruling does not mean the legal battle is over.
Mancino also noted that the Department of Defense has said it will reimburse salaries given to unvaccinated pilots who drill after Jan. 1, which can be enforced outside of state control.
“Without the possibility of injunction before January 1, 2022, I have decided not to allow unvaccinated Oklahoma Air National Guard Drill Status Guardsmen (DSGs), without a medical exemption or request for religious accommodation, to participate in any future exercise period, except for any aviator who wants to be vaccinated, “Mancino wrote.
The Air Force has recently extended the deadline for Air National Guard members to be vaccinated from December 2 to December 31. The Army gave its National Guard members until June 30, 2022 to come to terms.
In a ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Friot rejected a proposal by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) and Attorney General John O’Connor to block the vaccine mandate, finding that their allegations were unfounded.
The ruling came amid a fight between Stitt and the Pentagon, which began after the governor asked the Secretary of Defense Lloyd AustinLloyd Austin Overnight Defense & National Security – Biden prepares for second Putin call Austin orders US warships to stay in the Mediterranean amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia Federal judge rejects Oklahoma’s bid to block National Guard vaccine mandate MORE to exempt its State Guard from the military vaccine mandate.
Shortly after the request, which was later denied, Mancino issued a memo stating that no member of the Oklahoma National Guard was required to be vaccinated.
But in a statement issued Dec. 9, Mancino apparently acknowledged that the state could not evade the mandate when troops were called up for exercises or further schooling.
“I continue to urge everyone to get vaccinated if you choose, and will continue to facilitate this option for all pilots who wish to take it,” Mancino wrote in his latest message.