- "And this path shall go on, as long as the blaze of fire that shines through the darkness is not extinguished."
- ― Harling
Vincent Harling (ヴィンセント・ハーリング Vinsento Hāringu) was the 48th President of the Osean Federation and a strong proponent of peace and international cooperation. Harling was elected to at least three consecutive four-year terms of office in 2004, 2008, and again in 2012.
First term (2004–2008)
Harling's first term began in 2004 after receiving a majority 44,312,243 votes in the Osean general election; his eventual runningmate, Appelrouth, was more nationalistic and counterbalanced Harling's pacifism.
When Harling entered office, the world was in crisis: the international community was still recovering from the planetfall of Ulysses 1994XF04; Osea, which had assumed control of South Belka after 1995, was preoccupied with rebuilding and incorporating the war-torn territory; and existing tensions between the Usean nations had recently erupted into a full-scale war. In line with his peaceful principles, Harling kept the Federation neutral and out of the Second Usean Continental War.
The Osean economy continued to flourish during Harling's first four years in office, and his administration maintained Osea's friendly relations with the Union of Yuktobanian Republics. Much to the chagrin of his hawkish political opponents, Harling slashed the Federation's defense budget in order to fund the construction of Basset Space Center, a cooperative effort by both Osea and Yuktobania. In hopes of solidifying relations between the two superpowers, the space center was intended to be the first step towards the realization of an international space station.
Second term (2008–2012)
2008 G7 Summit and Arkbird Declaration
Following his successful first term, Harling was reelected to office with a larger majority 48,562,134 votes. After a terrorist attack resulted in the cancellation of the 2007 G7 Summit, Harling chose to host the 2008 conference aboard Osea's Arkbird spacecraft (in his words, a place "beyond [national] boundaries").
At the meeting, it was decided that the Arkbird would be used to clear Earth's orbit of the lingering Ulysses fragments that periodically impacted the surface; furthermore, Harling contributed to the historic nuclear disarmament initiatives that were established between Osea and Yuktobania, including the push for a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and renewal of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. A number of high-ranking ODF officers consequently resigned in protest of Harling's disarmament initiatives.
Circum-Pacific War (2010)
Main article: Circum-Pacific War
In late September, during the 2010 Osean airspace intrusions, reports coming into Bright Hill from the west coast described unknown hostile fighters engaging and killing Osean airmen. For the time being, Harling stayed the Osean military's response. Then, on September 27, Yuktobania declared war on the Osean Federation and launched a simultaneous air raid on St. Hewlett harbor.
In the wake of the devastating losses at Eaglin Straits, Harling approved the launch of an SSTO craft to reequip the Arkbird with its laser-cannon module, which had been removed as part of the disarmament process following the Arkbird Declaration. After its failed attempt to invade Sand Island, Yuktobania temporarily ceased offensive operations. Although details remain uncertain, it is believed that sometime around October 4, Harling began diplomatic communications with Yuktobanian Prime Minister Seryozha Viktrovich Nikanor.
Ignorant as to why Yuktobania had suddenly renounced 15 years of friendship, Harling arranged to discreetly meet with Nikanor at the neutral country of North Point and begin peace talks. North Point was sufficiently far enough away from the conflict and deemed a safe meeting site for the two statesmen.
Main article: Akerson Hill incident
On October 22, 2010, Harling boarded a C-5 transport plane, callsign "Mother Goose One", and headed for North Point. Due to the mission's secrecy, an official presidential transport could not be used, and the aircraft did not transmit an IFF signal which may identify the president. As Mother Goose One passed over the Akerson Hill region in western Osea, the Osean Coastal Defense Force's automated anti-aircraft system fired upon and damaged Harling's transport.
Luckily for Harling, Wardog Squadron, which was performing a routine air patrol nearby, guided Mother Goose One safely through the SAM defenses. Suddenly, Yuktobanian fighters entered the airspace, and a spy in the transport's crew shot the captain and copilot. Harling, under the pseudonym "Mr. Cargo", manned the transport's radio while his secretary assumed the controls.
When multiple engines failed, Mother Goose One was forced to perform an emergency landing. After successfully landing in the fields of Akerson Hill, the 8492nd Squadron appeared to relieve Wardog and provide assistance for Harling. In reality, the 8492nd Squadron was a group of Belkan operatives in league with the Grey Men, who captured Harling shortly afterward and imprisoned him within Stier Castle in southern Belka.
Absence from office
Harling's absence in Oured was not immediately recognized, as the vice president, Appelrouth, quietly assumed the presidency and began furthering the Osean war effort. Ten days after Harling's abduction, Osea launched an invasion of mainland Yuktobania, which resulted in considerable loss of life in both nations.
During this time, Harling was confined to his cell overlooking Ground Zero of one of the 1995 Belkan nuclear detonations. By early December, word was spreading that Harling had not been sighted around the capital for several weeks.
Main article: Operation Keynote
On December 9, 2010, nearly a month and a half after his capture by the 8492nd Squadron, Harling was rescued from Stier Castle by Sea Goblin and the former Wardog Squadron. Harling was taken to the Osean aircraft carrier Kestrel, which had been stationed at Kirwin Island.
Ending the war
The day after Harling's rescue, the intelligence vessel Andromeda received a coded transmission. Harling discerned that the message was intended for him, as the mysterious number sequences which punctuated it were the total votes he had won in the 2004 and 2008 elections. Harling also turned the former Wardog Squadron into his personal defense squadron, known as the Razgriz Air Command Squadron.
After Blaze retrieved photographic evidence of Belka's attempts to remove nuclear warheads from a storage facility in Mount Schirm, Harling ordered the destruction of the site. Over the coming week, Harling dispatched the Razgriz to eliminate the threat of the two nuclear warheads that had been smuggled to Belkan aggressors in Osea and Yuktobania. On December 19, Harling ordered the Arkbird's destruction in order to prevent a nuclear attack on Okchabursk, Yuktobania.
After the Arkbird was shot down, Harling broadcast his voice in an attempt to expose the truth behind the war; however, the Osean officials deemed it "enemy propaganda" and censored Harling's words. The president subsequently left the Kestrel with Sea Goblin team and returned to Oured to retake his office.
On December 30, at 2200hrs, Harling held a press conference at Bright Hill with Nikanor, who (like Harling) had been freed from captivity several days earlier. In his address, Harling revealed the reason behind his absence and that the war had been manufactured by those with ill-will towards Osea and Yuktobania. Harling also alluded to the existence of V2 and urged both Osean and Yuktobanian forces to aid the Razgriz Squadron as it infiltrated Sudentor to destroy the SOLG control center.
Third term and beyond (2012–20??)
In 2012, Harling was reelected to a third term as president. At the 2013 Osean Federation Council Meeting, Harling announced that all information pertaining to the "Belkan Conflict" would be released to the public in 2020. Harling affirmed that only time would "shed light on the truth behind the conflict", and expressed his optimistic view of the future, stating that the world "[had] already begun to head down a new path."
It is presumed that through the remainder of his presidency, Harling maintained his strict anti-war beliefs, continued to support nonproliferation policies, and worked to reestablish the relationship that Osea and Yuktobania had shared prior to the war.
- ↑ "Aces, Demons, and Ghosts: Mysterious Heroes of the Belkan Conflict", OBN Journal (Special Issue). Published July 2014.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Cutscene 21, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ "Friction Comes to the Surface of the Refugee Problem", GAZE: War? Published August 22, 2003.
- ↑ Cutscene 10, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- ↑ "Countries Unite to Counter Erusea; "ISAF" Established", GAZE: War? Published August 22, 2003.
- ↑ Cutscene prior to White Bird (Part I), Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 "Accelerating the Peace Process", GAZE: Arkbird Declaration Summit 2008. Published August 21, 2008.
- ↑ "Ark After Stonehenge", GAZE: Arkbird Declaration Summit 2008. Published August 21, 2008.
- ↑ "Arkbird Declaration", GAZE: Arkbird Declaration Summit 2008. Published August 21, 2008.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Cutscene 18, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Cutscene 02, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Open War, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Narrow Margin, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Rendezvous, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ White Bird (Part I), Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Handful of Hope, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Ancient Walls, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Journey Home, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Closure, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ White Bird (Part II), Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Cutscene 22, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Cutscene 26, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ Cutscene 29, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.