Fighterjocks From Portland Are In Finland Right Now, Spooking The Russians

Some American flyboys are in Finland this month, in an effort to remind Russian President Vladimir Putin where his country’s borders really are.

The 123rd Fighter Squadron, based out of Portland, Oregon, is participating in exercises in Finland over the course of this month.

The F-15Cs of the 123rd will be assisting in improving the readiness of the Finnish Air Force, who has seen an increase in its necessity due to an increase in Russian airspace violations of sovereign airspace.

Finland is not a member of NATO, but has been a participant in the Partnership for Peace program, as well as assisting in ISAF operations in Afghanistan, and participating in NATO exercises, as demonstrated below.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has solidified North American and European security interests to a degree that may even exceed that of the height of the Cold War.

This in turn has lead to an interest among some to extend the NATO security umbrella.

This has led most recently to Montenegro’s invitation to the alliance, and some suggestions that Sweden and Finland consider alliance membership.

Both Sweden and Finland have historically followed a policy of neutrality, but this has not been entirely adhered to.

Sweden has had intelligence sharing agreements with NATO states since 1954, as well as relying on NATO capabilities in the event of war against the Soviet Union, and in more recent times against simulated Russian airstrikes.

Both countries participate in NATO exercises, and operations, as well as having strong relations with both Denmark and Norway; both founding members of the Atlantic Alliance.

However, the two countries are not equally open to formally joining the alliance.

The Swedish public has rapidly shifted in favor of NATO membership, with 41% in favor, 39% opposed, and 20% undecided as of late 2015.  While Finnish support for NATO membership is at a historical high, only 27% support membership.

This is why the American deployment of aircraft into non ally Finland is such a strong signal.

 The Americans may be showing a preview of the kind of commitment they would offer if Finland joined NATO.

By creating stronger military and diplomatic ties with Finland through interactions between the 123rd with Finnish units, and other NATO-Finland interactions, the case for affiliation becomes more concrete.

That does not make the Portland based unit’s sale easy.

Greater affiliation with the EU and NATO has historically lead to an increase in likelihood for Russian counter actions, ala the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, and the two year old ongoing fiasco in Ukraine.

It is essentially out of the question that Finland join without Sweden, or vice versa. In addition to the two countries having strong historical ties, as well as sharing a highly convenient border to ferry troops and material over in the event of Russian intervention into Finland, while Sweden joining with Finland might trigger a response against neutral Finland, in order to guarantee buffer space against the perceived NATO threat.

The Oregon Air National Guard is thus pulling double duty in appealing to both the remaining non aligned Scandinavian countries, as well as improving Finland’s unilateral readiness.

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Photo Credit: cryogenic666/Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

Make No Mistake, There is Terrorism Happening in Oregon Right Now

A group of upwards of 150 armed men have taken over a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns Oregon.

But don’t let CNN or other parts of the “mainstream” media fool you. This is not an act of “protest” by concerned “patriots”. This is terrorism by anti-government vigilantes.

This is the culmination of a long trail of events leading back to 2001. You can look here for a name-by-name breakdown of events, but I’ll give you the CliffsNotes version.

Over the New Year holiday, a group of about 300 protesters marched through Burns, led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, best known for refusing to pay about $1 million in taxes and engaging in an armed stand-off with the Bureau of Land Management back in 2014.

They were marching in protest to the sentencing of Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were found guilty of arson of federal and public lands.

By Friday, Ammon had led his group to take control of the refuge, claiming that they would control the building for years if they had to.

Do those sound like the words and actions of protesters to you?

If you said yes, congratulations, you’re part of the problem.

You see, this is being handled very differently than say when there were protests and riots in Ferguson, MO or Baltimore.

In both those cases, the entire 24/7 news cycle covered the events. With every major TV news station talking about nothing else for weeks.

For this story? Well, CNN had it on the front of their website, while ABC used the term “peaceful protest”.

Oh, and another thing that occurred in both the above cases that hasn’t happened yet in Oregon. The National Guard was called in.

“Here’s the problem: what the terrorists will ask for is something the federal government can’t give them.”

In Ferguson, there were armored vehicles patrolling the streets. And that was against (primarily black) people armed with stones, bricks, and foul language.

A federal building is being held by (white) people carrying semi-automatic weapons. They are being negotiated with.

Let’s just call this what it is and get it over with. This is terrorism. Plain and simple.

I won’t go into a long spiel about why it is because I’ve already done that. Different names, different places, different reasons, same conclusion.

There is no argument. As I see it, the more interesting questions are how will the federal government respond.

In a situation such as this, only two options are readily apparent. You either attempt to settle this peacefully, or you send in the military.

To me, the correct choice is the latter.

Historically, law enforcement and the government have preferred peaceful settlement. It is not only cheaper, but it saves lives. No reason to put soldier’s lives at risk if it isn’t necessary.

Here’s the problem: what the terrorists will ask for is something the federal government can’t give them. They will ask for the release of the (rightly) imprisoned Hammond men. This is impossible as it would be a slap in the face of the justice system.

Also, these terrorists, or at least the leaders, can’t walk away scot-free. Even though the building they are holding was empty and they have not brought injury or death to anyone, they still perpetrated an armed take-over of a federal building. Doesn’t matter if it’s on a small wildlife refuge or the White House, same rules apply.

The final problem with this arrangement is that it could open the doors for other like-minded people to take similar actions. They will feel emboldened by the fact that “those guys in Oregon got away with it, why not me?” Who’s to say in that scenario that such a thing couldn’t then happen in Texas, or Florida, or Minnesota?

So how would I suggest they bring this act of terrorism on US soil to an end? Well, I’m not a military man by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have an idea.

All the Oregon National Guard (and whomever else the government decides to send out) has to do is create a perimeter around the building and wait. They know exactly where the building is, and they know that it is solely occupied by terrorists. What they have is the makings of a good old-fashioned siege.

The terrorist leaders have called on others to join them, and to bring guns and supplies. You nip that in the bud by closing off the roads and paths. One guy in a truck will probably turn back at the sight of 20 guys with guns in his way.

As for how long this will take, Bundy has said that they plan to stay for years. I give it to the end of the week. They will realize that they are surrounded, out-gunned, and haven’t eaten well. Morale will be low and the “patriotic” gusto which started this ordeal will be nonexistent.

Then the final question is what to do after the terrorists’ surrender? That boils down to whether or not this action constitutes treason. According to US law, treason is defined as:

“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

The phrase “levies war” is the kicker. It’ll be up to the Justice Department to determine that one.

But regardless of how this plays out, the men holed up in that building in Oregon should be considered terrorists by both the media and the law.

To do any less is an indictment upon the character of the media and an indication of what stories we can expect in 2016.

Cover Photo Credit: Ken Lund/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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