Wing Commander discloses real reason for F-35 training in Vermont cities–and it's not a good one
During a live Vermont National Guard Facebook “Open House” on February 8, Wing Commander Col. David Shevchik made a significant admission.
The admission came during his answer to a question typed in to the Facebook chat by a reporter for CancelF35.substack.com: “Is there a military necessity to train with the F-35 from a runway in a city? Could the F-35 training be accomplished from a runway remote from populated areas?”
Let’s leave aside for the moment that Adjutant General Gregory Knight altered the question. Instead, he put this question to the Wing Commander: “Why are F-35s operating in a populated city?” (https://www.facebook.com/VermontNationalGuard/videos/464767501780653 at 19:24).
Great employment opportunities
Wing Commander Col. David Shevchik: Frankly, there are a lot of bases that are in populated areas. Including other F-35s. There’s bases out in Destin Florida, Eglin Air Force Base, a populated area. You have Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona. You have Nellis Air Force base in Las Vegas. You have Hill Air Force Base right outside of Salt Lake City. So you have significant population centers that have Air Force bases. I think there's a symbiotic you know partnership here, both economically and with the professionals that we have that provide great employment opportunities. So that's that's part of it.
The point, according to the Wing Commander, is to be located in a city. Being in cities is deliberate. He asserts that locating in a city is a great employment opportunity for the Vermont Air National Guard’s professionals. The location in a city is essential. A runway remote from a city would not offer a good employment opportunity for those airmen.
The Vermont Air National Guard told the Winooski City Council that they are taking off with the F-35 hundreds of times a month. That Volume I of the US Air Force Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) said that 2,963 Vermont families are assaulted with 115-decibel F-35 jets is a secondary concern to the Wing Commander. Volume II of the Air Force EIS said that repeated exposure to military aircraft noise at less than the F-35’s 115-decibel can cause hearing loss. It further said that children face impaired learning and impaired cognitive development from the far softer noise of commercial jets at busy civilian airorts. An AARP report described research showing that living in a noisy area “increases your risk of severe stroke by 30%.” And researchers at Johns Hopkins found “that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk while moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.”
The Wing Commander’s assertion of great employment opportunities for Vermont Air National Guard professionals that city life provides is an admission of illicit self-serving conduct. Such justification cannot condone hurting even one civilian. Yet Volume I of the Air Force EIS says that 6,663 Vermonters are living in the noise target zone of the F-35. It names 7 schools in that target zone. The pretext of great employment opportunities turns the fundamental DoD principle of “military necessity” on its head (DOD Direxctive 2311.01) and substitutes mere convenience for Vermont Air Guard airmen at great physical and mental pain to Vermonters.
The Wing Commander’s admission reveals the F-35 training flights in Vermont cities to be wholly illegitimate. No Vermonter can take pleasure from such self-serving motivation. The resulting violence targeting thousands of Vermont civilians must stop now: The US constitution and US law provide the State of Vermont with full authority—as well as the obligation—to immediately abort the F-35 training in cities. And those military and political leaders responsible for hurting and injuring Vermont civilians must be investigated, prosecuted, and incarcerated.
The Air Force does it, too
The excuse offered by the Wing Commander that the Air Force does it too at Air Force bases similarly falls flat. That others do something too to explain illicit behavior is a logical fallacy. Resort to such illogic confirms the illegitimacy. The implication that the Air Force failure to protect civilians opens the door for the Wing Commander to harm Vermonters is absolutely wrong and must be rejected.
The truth is just the opposite: No failure by another excuses. The Wing Commander must insist on conducting routine Vermont Air National Guard training flights at a location where no civilians will be hurt or injured. As required by DoD Directive 2311.01 he must report the illegal action at any Air Force base where he is aware that civilians are being hurt and injured for training. Halting F-35 training at all locations where civilians are being grievously blasted is mandated by the fundamental principles described in DoD Directive 2311.01.
But even if we accept the Wing Commander’s reasoning for a moment, he omitted facts about some of those Air Force bases:
∙ Eglin Air Force Base has two runways, one of which aims directly at the City of Valparaiso one mile away. The other runway aims away from any populated area. Fortunately, the Air Force settled a lawsuit filed by the former Mayor of Valparaiso and agreed in writing to use the runway that aims away from Valparaiso for routine F-35 training flights.
Volume I of the US Air Force EIS compared F-35 basing at three Air Force Bases and three Air National Guard Stations, including Burlington. Only at Burlington did the Air Force EIS show an increase in the number of civilians assaulted.
The admission and lame excuse offered by the Wing Commander mean the F-35 training in Vermont cities is indefensible. Now is the time to abolish F-35 training at BTV and in all populated areas.
Write or call your public servants:
Governor Phil Scott 802-828-3333 Chief of Staff <Jason.Gibbs@vermont.gov>
Vermont National Guard's Complaint Line: 802-660-5379 (Note: the Vermont Guard told a reporter that it received over 1400 noise complaints. But the Guard won’t release what people said).
Instead or in addition, submit your report & complaint to the online F-35 Fall 2021-Winter 2022 Report & Complaint Form: https://tinyurl.com/5d89ckj9
See all the graphs and in-your-own words statements on the F-35 Spring-Summer 2021 Report & Complaint Form (513 responses): https://tinyurl.com/3svacfvx.
See links to the graphs and in-your-own words statements on all four versions of the F-35 Report & Complaint Form since Spring 2020, with a total of 1670 responses from 658 different people.
Senator Patrick Leahy 800-642-3193 Chief of Staff <email@example.com>
Senator Bernie Sanders 800-339-9834 <Senator@sanders.senate.gov>
Congressman Peter Welch 888-605-7270 Chief of Staff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Burlington City Council <email@example.com>
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott <email@example.com>
S. Burlington City Council Chair Helen Riehle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Williston Selectboard Chair Terry Macaig <email@example.com>
VT Senate President Becca Balint <firstname.lastname@example.org>
VT House Speaker Jill Krowinski <email@example.com>
Attorney General TJ Donavan <DonovanTJ@gmail.com>
States Attorney Sarah George <Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vermont’s Federal Prosecutor <email@example.com>
Adjutant General Brig Gen Gregory C Knight <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Major J Scott Detweiler <email@example.com>
Wing Commander Col David Shevchik firstname.lastname@example.org
Vermont National Guard Inspector General Lt. Col. Edward J Soychak <email@example.com>
US Air Force Inspector General Lt. Col. Pamela D. Koppelmann <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall <Frank.Kendall@us.af.mil>