Tinker AFB to be upgraded

Members of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation today reacted to news that Tinker Air Force Base’s (AFB) Air Logistics Center (ALC) will become the new single head for Air Force sustainment and logistics.  The realignment, a move that is in line with the Defense Department’s requirement to make $450 billion in spending cuts over the next decade, will mean that Tinker will lose its current Two Star General slot, but will gain a Three Star General and a One Star General billet.

According to initial information provided by the Air Force, there will be no large movements of personnel from the centers but there will be a reduction of personnel positions at Tinker Air Force Base and across the state.  However, because Tinker was selected as the lead facility, the impact of losses on Oklahoma will be less than in other states.  One of the delegation’s concerns is the organization and reporting responsibilities of the Aerospace Sustainment Directorate (ASD), currently under the command of the ALC Commander.

While all personnel in the ASD will remain at the new Air Logistics Complexes, how that organization reports to the new Air Logistics Complex Commander to ensure continued seamless operations is still to be determined.  The ASD is critical to orchestrating and integrating the support at the Air Logistics Centers and ensuring weapon systems are delivered on time and on budget.  Under the new organization, the ASD will report to the new Life Cycle Management Center. The new reporting structure could undermine efficiencies and drive up long term costs at the ALCs, where decisions are quickly executed locally at the Air Logistics Center.

U.S. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), said, “Today’s Air Force announcement that Tinker AFB will become the Sustainment Center is great news for Oklahoma.  It speaks volumes of the teamwork, innovation, experience, and hard work of the Tinker team and the quality work they produce.  The expertise of the ALC’s leadership at Tinker, the support of the local community and its purchase of the old GM plant have all made Tinker Air Force Base the obvious choice for this increased role.

“The mission and work being done at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center is a source of pride for our entire state. Today’s announcement puts Tinker at the heart of the Air Force’s drive to increase efficiency and cost effectiveness while focusing on the number one goal – supporting the warfighter. However, I wish Congress would have been included more in this decision-making process. After a decade of decay in the 1990s, our ALCs are once again setting the benchmark for maintenance, repair and overhaul operations – both military and civilian. Maintaining our organic ALC capability is essential to projecting airpower across the globe. This includes enhancing key partnerships that have formed between the Air Force and industry, fostering improvements across the maintenance and repair enterprise.  Tinker will now be the premiere facility.

“The key measurement of the ALCs is how fast they can get aircraft and engines out the door.  The realignment of the ASD under the new Life Cycle Management Center at Wright Patterson AFB could jeopardize that, and is unacceptable.  Secretary Donley has assured the delegations that the Air Force would work with Members of Congress on the future structure and reporting chain of the ASD.  I will continue working with the Air Force and the delegations of Oklahoma, Georgia and Utah on the specific details of the ASD located at each of the three ALCs.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Okla.) said, “The decision to designate Tinker Air Force Base to the superior rank of the Sustainment Center reinforces the great source of pride the base has been, and continues to be, for the state of Oklahoma.  At a time when we have thousands of troops on the ground risking their lives fighting conflicts overseas, the ability of the Air Force to increase its efficiency to be able to provide a greater amount of support to these brave men and women, is crucial.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4), a member of the Appropriations Committee and subcommittee on Defense, said, “It’s a testament to the importance of Tinker’s work and the quality of its workforce that the base has been selected for these vital new tasks.  Strong support from the community and the longstanding commitment of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation have helped make Tinker a crucial defense asset and a magnet for private contractors.

"Tinker has emerged from this process stronger than many other facilities and has great potential to gain additional new missions and jobs in the future  As a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to do everything I can to ensure Tinker remains the nation’s premier air logistics facility.

"The assignment of a sustainment center and 3-star general highlights Tinker’s pre-eminent role among air logistics facilities.  This is a big gain for Oklahoma and an honor for Tinker."

U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) said, “The Air Force’s decision today to combine sustainment and support functions at Tinker Air Force Base is a step forward for Tinker and the state of Oklahoma.  I commend the vision and foresight of local leaders and the community to make Tinker a more valuable partner in the mission of our national defense structure.  Tinker has routinely demonstrated its ability to provide quality results to the warfighter in a timely manner, and I am pleased the Air Force agrees.  Increasing leadership at the base is a testament to their successful ability to complete the mission at hand.    

“In these times of budget constraints, we are all aware of the decisions that need to be made to find efficiencies and streamline operations.  I look forward to continue working with Air Force leadership and the entire Oklahoma community to implement the details of this decision.”  

In an October 12, 2011 press release, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz Air Force said, "Air Force organizations and installations of the future may not operate the same tomorrow as they do today.  In fact, we are considering a restructure of AFMC – our largest employer of civilians – to standardize processes, streamline decision making and align missions for more effective operations. The new structure will focus on reducing overhead costs and redundant layers of management while largely protecting the command’s rank and file workforce."

Currently, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Command repairs and maintains bomber, refueling and reconnaissance aircraft, among others.  Many crucial airborne accessories also are maintained at the center, including life-support systems. The center provides cradle-to-grave support for a variety of aircraft, including the E-3 AWACS, C/KC-135, B-52 and B-1. It is responsible for depot-level repair, modifications, overhaul and functional check flight of the B-1, B-52, C/KC-135, E-3 and the Navy’s E-6 aircraft. Engines managed include a substantial inventory, from the older Pratt & Whitney TF33 to the state-of-the-art F119. Units: 72nd Air Base Wing, 76th Maintenance Wing and Aerospace Sustainment Directorate.

The restructuring will be fully implemented by Oct. 1, 2012.