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Tinker Air Force Base gets new leadership role in restructuring of major command

Restructuring forced by budget pressures gives Tinker's Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center a superior status over centers in Georgia and Utah, but questions remain about how the new structure will work.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: November 3, 2011 at 8:30 am •  Published: November 3, 2011

— The massive repair depot at Tinker Air Force Base will gain a new leadership role, but lose a relatively small amount of positions, as part of an Air Force plan to streamline operations and reduce its workforce.

Members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation said Wednesday that the move would elevate the status of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center and make it even more attractive to private contractors since it will now host one of the “lead” centers under the Air Force command that oversees repair depots.

“There's no question that Tinker and Oklahoma emerged as major winners,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, whose district includes Tinker.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, also hailed the decision, saying Tinker has the “capacity, the talent and the size” to host the new Sustainment Center, but he questioned whether the streamlined structure of the Air Force Materiel Command would be a more efficient one.

According to figures provided to Oklahoma lawmakers, an estimated 119 positions will be eliminated at Tinker over the next year, though some of those positions are currently vacant; the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center currently employs about 16,000 civilian and military personnel.

Overall, the Air Force Materiel Command — which has the largest civilian workforce in the Air Force — is expected to shed about 1,000 positions.

Another 130 position losses are expected to be borne by Altus Air Force Base and Vance Air Force Base, as the Air Force seeks to reduce its civilian workforce.

Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said Wednesday, “We are making difficult choices about how to deliberately restructure and posture the force and will continue to look for new ways of accomplishing the mission. We can't afford business as usual.”

Tinker to get three-star general

The Air Force has three air logistics centers. They are large and very complex repair depots that work on aircraft, missiles and other weapons systems.

Besides the one at Tinker, which specializes in aircraft engine repair and is the largest of the three, there are logistics centers at Hill Air Force Base in Utah and at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.

Under the restructuring, the three logistics centers will become Air Logistics Complexes headed by brigadier — one-star — generals, instead of the major — two-star — generals that currently lead the centers.

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