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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | Nov. 13, 2021

Statement on COVID vaccination policy

By Oklahoma National Guard

The Oklahoma National Guard released a statement today concerning their policy on COVID vaccination mandates for the Soldiers and Airmen in their formations.
At the direction of Governor Kevin Stitt, Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino, the adjutant general for Oklahoma, issued updated COVID-19 vaccine policy for the Oklahoma National Guard.
“This policy is not anti-vaccine. I and the Governor are both vaccinated. I encourage all our Oklahoma Guard Members to get vaccinated if they choose to do so.” Mancino said. “We want to educate and inform our Soldiers and Airmen so that they can make an informed decision regarding the DoD Vaccine Mandate.”
Under Title 32, Congress established a dual framework for the National Guard. The states receive federal funding in return for being made available to the federal government when called to active duty by the President.
Under Title 32, the Oklahoma National Guard is a state-controlled and federally-funded entity and takes orders from the Governor and his designated chain of command. When mobilized by the President, under Title 10, the Oklahoma National Guard takes all orders from the President and his designated chain of command.
“Failing to follow the Governor’s lawful orders while on Title 32 would be both illegal, unethical, and against our sworn oaths. Nothing in this order prevents anyone from taking the vaccine,” Mancino said. “Also, nothing in his order eliminates the Federal Requirement. The Governor is hoping for Federal Relief from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and in the interim has granted state relief from this requirement.”
Until a Guardsman is activated under Title 10, they follow the lawful commands of the Governor of the State of Oklahoma, who has not mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for Oklahoma Guard Members. Once activated to title 10 status, Guardsmen are subject to all Title 10 laws and mandates until returning to Title 32 status.
“If you [Oklahoma Guard Members] are not mobilized on Title 10 orders, the only entity that can give you a “lawful” order - that is an order backed by the authority of law - is the Governor and his designated State chain of command.  That “law” is Title 32 U.S. code,” Mancino said. “This is easily seen by the fact that the UCMJ does not apply to you in Title 32 status. Instead, you are governed by the Oklahoma Code of Military Justice (OCMJ).”
Therefore, Brig. Gen. Mancino provided the policy clarifying the Governor’s order that Soldiers and Airmen in the Oklahoma National Guard are relieved from this requirement until mobilized in accordance with the Constitution, the Law, and sworn oath.
“The Governor’s request is with Secretary Austin for decision, and the National Guard Bureau has indicated it will conduct a legal review of our position,” Mancino said. “The proper venue for the resolution of these issues is the Governor’s office, Congress, and the Federal Executive branch. Not the court of public opinion in the press or on social media.”
Video by Sgt. Haden Tolbert
Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade welcomes new commander
Oklahoma National Guard
June 11, 2024 | 1:30
The 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, held a change of command ceremony at Camp Gruber Training Center near Braggs, Oklahoma, June 11, 2024, marking the end of Col. Andrew Ballenger's tenure and welcoming Col. Khalid Hussein as the new commander.

Ballenger, a native of Pryor, Oklahoma, has led the 45th IBCT since August 2022. Under his command, the brigade has seen numerous deployments and training exercises, including the 2023 deployment of Task Force Tomahawk, a task force made up of multiple units of the 45th deployed to support the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. That deployment was the single largest deployment of 45th IBCT Soldiers since the brigade’s Afghanistan deployment in 2011.

Hussein brings extensive experience to his new role, having served in numerous command and staff positions, including deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and support operations during Hurricane Katrina. He holds a Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University School of Law and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino; Adjutant General for Oklahoma

Col. Andrew Ballenger; Outgoing Commander, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

Col. Khalid Hussein; Incoming Commander, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team