Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, tested positive for Covid-19 this week and is now isolating while working remotely, a bureau spokesperson said Friday.
“All other members of the National Guard Bureau staff are continuing with their duties under the existing COVID protocols, and all continue to be tested, as required,” the spokesperson added in a statement.
Hokanson is the National Guard’s highest-ranking officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Hokanson had been in Europe over Thanksgiving week visiting deployed troops in Poland and Kosovo, where he was tested at each stop, according to a DoD official who asked not to be named to discuss a sensitive issue. He tested positive upon returning to Washington, the official added.
It’s not clear if Hokanson had any contact with other members of the Joint Chiefs since his return from Europe, the official said. The commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are all scheduled to speak at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif., on Saturday. So far none has canceled their appearance.
The news of Hokanson’s positive test comes amid increasing tensions between components of the National Guard and senior Pentagon leadership over the Defense Department’s vaccine mandate.
Last month, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the state’s adjutant general, to notify the state’s National Guard soldiers and airmen that they would not be required to get their shots.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby maintained at the time that “[it] is a lawful order for National Guardsmen to receive the Covid vaccine.”
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had decided that National Guard members who refuse vaccination will be barred from federally funded drills and training required to maintain their Guard status.
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