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Military budget cuts could mean furloughs for thousands in Oklahoma, according to senator’s study

An analysis prepared for Sen. Jim Inhofe on the worst-case scenario for Oklahoma’s bases warns of widespread civilian furloughs and cutbacks to training and maintenance.

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Published: January 30, 2013
/articleid/3750286/1/pictures/1939671">Photo - Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel

Tinker and the other bases that are part of the Air Force Materiel Command have been ordered to implement a civilian hiring freeze and release temporary employees that aren’t considered “mission critical.” The bases also have been told to curtail travel and flying that is not critical and to limit purchasing.

The analysis, prepared for Inhofe by Republican staff on the Senate Armed Services Committee, predicts far more serious consequences if the automatic cuts go into effect as currently structured.

At Tinker, according to the analysis, the civilian workforce would be furloughed; fewer aircraft would be able to complete depot maintenance, affecting the entire Air Force fleet and increasing the risk to flight operations; flight tests would be delayed; and base hours would be reduced.

At Fort Sill, the U.S. Army post that is home to artillery training, up to 6,000 civilians could be furloughed; training would be reduced, as would the graduation rate of students, posing a risk to combat operations; maintenance and equipment upgrades would be deferred; and base hours would be reduced.

At Altus Air Force and Vance Air Force Base, more than 2,300 civilians combined would face furloughs and flight training would be curtailed, raising the risk to flight operations, the analysis says.

At the Army Ammunition Depot in McAlester, up to 1,700 employees would be furloughed and fewer weapons would be procured, according to an analysis.

A study released last summer by the Aerospace Industries Association estimated Oklahoma could lose nearly 8,000 defense-related jobs if the budget cuts went into effect and 16,000 total jobs.

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