Home Civilian based defense Vermonters at risk from F-35 training flights

Vermonters at risk from F-35 training flights


Amnesty International released a widely publicized report on August 5 condemning Ukraine for violating the rules of the law of war by positioning its military forces and conducting military operations in populated residential areas. The same rules that Vermont violates by positioning its F-35 jets in a city.

Ukrainian President Zelensky reacted angrily, accusing Amnesty of blaming Russia on Ukraine. The head of the Ukrainian organization Amnesty has resigned.

But Amnesty persisted, issuing another statement on August 7: “Amnesty International’s priority in this conflict and in any conflict is to ensure that civilians are protected. Indeed, that was our sole focus when publishing this latest research. While we fully support our findings, we regret the pain caused. »

The Amnesty report said:

  • “Ukrainian forces put civilians at risk by establishing bases and operating weapon systems in populated residential areas.
  • “Researchers found evidence that Ukrainian forces were launching strikes from populated residential areas and based in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages.
  • “Such [Ukrainian] These tactics violate international humanitarian law (IHL) and endanger civilians, as they turn civilian objects into military targets. Subsequent Russian strikes in populated areas killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure.
  • “Most residential areas where [Ukrainian] the soldiers themselves were miles from the front lines and viable alternatives were available that would not endanger civilians.
  • “International humanitarian law requires all parties to a conflict to avoid, whenever possible, placing military objectives in or near densely populated areas.

Amnesty’s report responded in advance to the Ukrainian outrage that followed, stating: “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian army from respecting international humanitarian law”.

It’s not just Ukraine

Vermont conducts military training operations with 20 F-35 jet aircraft from Burlington International Airport (BTV) in the densely populated city of South Burlington and near the cities of Burlington and Winooski.

“Air Police” Russia

The Vermont F-35 jets have just completed three months of “air policing” while “forward deployed” in Eastern Europe. The display of F-35 aircraft armed with Vermont missiles in several countries bordering Russia has highlighted the conventional and nuclear threat that Vermont-based F-35 aircraft pose to nuclear-armed US adversaries. , including Russia and China.

The ‘dual-capable’ F-35 can drop conventional and nuclear bombs

The US Department of Defense 2018 Nuclear Posture Review describes “the return of great power competition” with Russia and China, including anticipating the current proxy war with Russia over Ukraine and a future war with China over the South China Sea . He then spells out the danger that Russia and China face from the F-35: “The United States is incorporating a nuclear capability on the forward-deployable, nuclear-capable F-35.

If the current US proxy war or current tensions with China over Taiwan escalate, the 20 F-35 aircraft stationed at BTV could be hit by Russian or Chinese missiles to prevent them from “deploying to forward” to deliver conventional or nuclear payloads their “air”. -the police” threatened.

Continuing to conduct F-35 military training from an embedded airstrip in a densely populated Vermont city lacks even the flawed justification offered by Ukraine.

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F-35 forming worker houses, schools and adjacent workplaces

Put aside the idea of ​​a nuclear strike on the airport for a moment. A single 2,000-pound (1-ton) conventional military bomb striking the runway has a lethal radius of 360 meters (400 yards) and its shock waves “can cause serious injury and damage up to 800 meters away.” (875 yards). ) from the point of impact.

More than 1,000 workers’ houses and the Chamberlin Pre-K-5 School are within 875 yards of the trail. More than 3,000 civilians who use the airport for travel each day are believed to be within 400 meters. Hundreds of other civilians work on or near the airport grounds. All turned into military targets because the F-35 is right there, training illegally from a runway in a city.

Russian and Chinese nuclear bombs are thousands of times more powerful and have a radius of injury and serious damage several times greater than that of a conventional 2000 pound (1 ton) bomb. The F-35 integration at BTV uses thousands of Vermont civilians, including an elementary school, to protect the F-35 from humans.

A track in a city is not a military necessity

In addition to the BTV, the 2013 US Air Force F-35 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) outlined 5 other suitable choices for basing the F-35, all away from densely populated areas. For example, the EIS reports that McEntire Air National Guard Base in South Carolina, one of 5 alternate locations, has only 4% of people living in its same size F-35 extreme noise zone as the 6,663 Vermonters whose homes immediately surround BTV. And that while 7 schools are in the F-35 extreme noise zone at BTV, no schools are in McEntire.

The protection of civilians is the law

Amnesty International and IHL are not alone in protecting civilians. Federal law and US military regulations are totally in favor of protecting civilians from military operations. No law of any kind authorizes such indiscriminate abuses against civilians as the positioning of F-35 jets in a city, especially during a shooting war as tensions rise with nuclear-armed adversaries.

The U.S. Constitution gives states control over the training of their own National Guardsmen within “the discipline prescribed by Congress.” Congress passed a federal law that requires states to conduct Guard training under the same discipline as the United States Armed Forces.

US military regulations go further than IHL

Like IHL, U.S. Armed Forces discipline, including Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 2311.01 and Air Force Policy Directive 51-4, requires a “distinction” or separation of forces military personnel in populated areas during an armed conflict. But DoD and Air Force regulations both go further, requiring adherence to basic principles of the laws of war, including distinction, during “all other military operations” as well.

Citing DoD Directive 2311.01, the DoD law of war manual explains that compliance with the norms of the law of war is required “even in situations which do not constitute ‘war’ or ‘armed conflict'” – including “during military operations outside the context of a conflict armed”. He says, “the ‘elementary considerations of humanity’ have been understood to be ‘even more demanding in times of peace than in times of war.’ Thus, these legal standards, at a minimum, must be respected in all circumstances.

The 2018 US Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act states, “It will be the policy of the United States to officially and publicly condemn the use of innocent civilians as human shields.”

Federal law 10 USC 950t renders anyone who uses civilians or civilian property “with intent to protect a military objective [like the F-35] “attack” punishable by trial and punishment by military commission.

A UN report pursuant to a UN Security Council resolution explains:

No principle is more central to the humanitarian law of war than the obligation to respect the distinction between combatants and non-combatants. This principle is violated and criminal liability incurred when organizations deliberately target civilians or when they use civilians as shields or show wanton indifference to the protection of non-combatants.

Not too late to obey the law

Continuing the hundreds of F-35 training operations each month in a city, even after the Vermont F-35’s “air policing” mission to Russia’s borders, illegally unnecessarily endangers thousands of Vermonter. Focused on a reluctant audience, its 115 decibel noise has been inflicting pain and suffering on a massive scale for nearly 3 years. Now, continued training with the F-35 makes the city a legitimate military target. Failure to follow U.S. military law and regulations puts thousands of civilians at risk.

Governor Phil Scott, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, former Governor Peter Shumlin, Vermont House and Senate leaders, and current and former Adjutant General and Commander are the political and military leaders responsible for Vermont.

If these abuses against civilians in Vermont cities persist as the US proxy war escalates, US law and US military regulations become inoperative. The perseverance and courage shown by Amnesty International with its report on Ukraine is now urgently needed to enforce US military law and regulations and to end state-sponsored abuses of the people of Vermont. .