Vermont Governor’s spokesman and Wing Commander caught at sleight of hand
Governor Phil Scott’s spokesman and Vermont National Guard Wing Commander Col. David Shevchik would have you believe that a federal government mission is to blame for F-35 flights continuing at Burlington International Airport (BTV). But a careful reading of what they each told VTDigger demonstrates disinformation.
See for yourself if you detect the sleight of hand in the statements, as printed in the VTDigger article, “Pandemic isolation and increased flights spike F-35 noise complaints,” on April 27, 2021:
A spokesperson for Scott said he would not ask that the F-35s be grounded because the “flights are a federal mission important to our country’s national security.”
“We absolutely have to still remain flying,” Shevchik said. He said the F-35s couldn’t have been grounded during the pandemic because the 158th Fighter Wing is federally mandated to be a mission-ready fleet, which requires constant training.
Neither the governor nor the wing commander actually said in words that F-35 training flights at BTV are a federal mission or that flying at BTV or that constant training in a densely populated area is federally mandated. They left that to you to infer. If their statements included any of those words they would have been false. Leaving them out, the statements were merely misleading. A sleight of hand, as no federal mission requires F-35 training from a runway in a city.
What is mandated is following laws and military regulations. Consistent with rights under Senate-ratified international treaties, including the 1907 Hague Convention, the 4th Geneva Convention, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Department of Defense Directive 2311.01 requires compliance with law of war principles “during all armed conflict” and “in all other military operations.” One of those principles, “Distinction,” requires commanders to “avoid placing military objectives in densely populated areas.” Like BTV. Distinction also requires that military operations only be directed against enemy military forces, and not against civilians or civilian property.
Another of those principles is reflected in Air Force Targeting Doctrine that “prohibits using an otherwise lawful weapon in a manner that causes unnecessary suffering.” When used for training flights in a densely populated city, the F-35 is an indiscriminate non-lethal assault weapon causing pain, injury to bodily organs, distress, and suffering as it blasts thousands of Vermonters with its 115 decibel noise, in violation of distinction and unnecessary suffering. It also violates Department of Defense Directive 3000.03E, which concerns use of non-lethal weapons.
Furthermore, the F-35 jets are training from an air field in a city only because of convenience, not military necessity, yet another violation of military regulations.
Even if we accept, for the moment, that F-35 training serves a federal mission, each such F-35 flight in the most densely populated area in Vermont is a screamingly loud announcement that fundamental law of war principles, to which DoD and Air Force directives, instructions, policies, and doctrine require compliance, are being knowingly and deliberately violated.
To accomplish an F-35 training mission according to actual federal mandate, the Vermont National Guard training operation at BTV must be immediately aborted. Such training can only legitimately be resumed remote from populated areas. In addition, the use of disinformation by the top political and military leaders will not substitute for compliance, and must stop now.
Furthermore, to enforce and protect equal protection and the rule of law, what is also mandatory is for the States Attorney or the Attorney General to hold those Vermont political and military leaders to account for their violent actions demonstrating depraved indifference to the suffering of Vermont families from the F-35 training flights in a densely populated area.