5 minute read

On the day before Emily Murphy, President Donald Trump’s supplicant in the General Services Administration, finally made transition funds available to President-elect Joe Biden’s team, Trump began actively sabotaging the incoming administration. 

It is completely understandable if people do not think much about the Treaty on Open Skies, a decades-old agreement that, until this year, included 35 signee countries. It is an agreement that allows its participants to conduct aircraft surveillance of their rivals and allies to ensure there are no unexpected military activities or buildups taking place.

Open Skies helps countries avoid misunderstandings about normal military movements and alerts them to sudden developments requiring immediate diplomatic or military intervention.

But people who do not know about Open Skies should pay attention now, because Trump made the United States’ withdrawal from the treaty official on Nov. 22 and ordered the aircraft used for that operation destroyed, a pair of specially outfitted OC-135Bs. They are not just to be decommissioned, but melted down or crushed into chop-shop blocks so that they cannot be used again.

Opinion

Opinion

by George Lang, opinion writer for Free Press

This is your outgoing President Trump, a false leader so obviously in thrall to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is hobbling our ability to keep tabs on our nation’s leading and most aggressive rival as he struggles to lug his malicious self out of the White House. But then Oklahoma is specifically cursed. 

This year, our state’s rural conservative population overwhelmingly supported U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s bid to stay in office until he is 92 years old. And what has the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services said about Open Skies? Not one damn thing. 

Inhofe knows how bad this entirely elective decision by Trump is and what it says about the president as a traitor to his nation. With the final states certified and Murphy starting the transfer of power, Inhofe should not fear Trump anymore. 

But Inhofe’s silence proves that the senior senator is either asleep at the switch or — and this is much worse — in total agreement with Trump on leaving Open Skies and destroying valuable military aircraft.

For someone who regularly wraps himself in khaki at a moment’s notice to give lip-service to the concerns of the military, this shows total disregard for the mission of safeguarding and defending the nation. 

I always sound superconservative whenever I discuss intelligence and national security, but old habits are hard to break. My service as an enlisted member of Navy Intelligence left an indelible mark on me, even after 30 years. I do not consider NATSEC a politically divisive issue. We all — Democrat, Republican and even Libertarian — want to live secure lives that measure up to our collective image of this nation as one that cannot be breached. National security is one of the hallmarks of the American ideal. 

This is why Trump’s unilateral decision to remove the U.S. from the Treaty on Open Skies and destroy the planes we used in that long-running operation makes no sense from an operational standpoint, but makes plenty of sense coming from Trump. The 45th president only rarely served our nation because he was so busy serving himself and Putin, and that is the sum total of what he is doing now. 

Under Open Skies, the U.S. was able to fly over Russian land and assets using these unarmed planes fitted with cameras and surveillance arrays.

No one in the world would request an end to this practice except for Putin and his lieutenants.

Open Skies
President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation | July 16, 2018 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

By destroying the aircraft, Trump ensures that the incoming Biden Administration will not be able to resume Open Skies operations on January 21, 2021. They cannot simply rejoin the treaty — the U.S. Department of Defense will have to spend time and money either refitting old C-130s to become OC-135Bs or moving forward with replacement aircraft.

Inhofe in particular should be screaming from the rooftops about Trump’s decision, because this will impact members of the 72nd Operational Support Squadron stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City.

Men and women serving in the U.S. Air Force at Tinker who help maintain and refuel these planes will have fewer duties, and the last thing that any military family wants to see is a reduction in operations budgets at Tinker. 

The bottom line is that Trump is only serving Putin by leaving Open Skies and scrapping the aircraft — no one else. There is no other reasonable explanation, and if Inhofe is unwilling to call out the lamest of lame ducks for this undermining of international security, we must know if Inhofe was party to this plan. Every military member serving in Oklahoma deserves an answer.


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