Stitt names new Oklahoma National Guard commander, gives no reason for change
Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday named Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino the new adjutant general for Oklahoma and commander of the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard.
Mancino had been assistant adjutant general for the Oklahoma Army National Guard since September 2019 and has been a Guard member for 35 years.
"I am pleased to promote General Mancino to this new role,” Stitt said in a news release announcing the appointment. “He is a steady leader, a strategic thinker, an effective communicator and he is the perfect choice to lead the Oklahoma National Guard."
Mancino served on the Governor's Solution Task Force in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mancino commanded a combat task force in Afghanistan from 2011–2012 and has three combat deployments.
"I am incredibly humbled to be selected by Governor Stitt to continue serving the State of Oklahoma in this new role," Mancino said in a statement. "The men and women of the Oklahoma National Guard provide critical support for their fellow citizens wherever needed and being named Adjutant General is the honor of a lifetime."
Mancino's appointment must be confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
Mancino assumes command from Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, who had served as adjutant general since November 2017. The governor's office declined to give a reason for the change, which came a week after the governor wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III asking for Oklahoma Guard members to be exempt from COVID vaccine requirements. The Guard did not ask the governor to do so, a military official with knowledge of the situation told KWGS last week. They spoke anonymously because they’re unauthorized to speak.
Thompson has been a very visible leader of the Oklahoma Guard, from promoting vaccines to doing public service announcements for veterans’ mental health. He publicly apologized to the living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre for the role the Guard played in the attack and spoke candidly about the Guard's deployment to Washington, D.C., in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying he was "heartbroken."
"I'm not trying to be dramatic or anything like that, but sitting here watching that, it was just a surreal experience. I never in my life — and I'm 57 — thought that I would see something like that in our own country," Thompson said.