U.S. Air Force to shut down award-winning communications unit at Tinker Air Force Base

Air Force officials notified Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe on Tuesday that the 3rd Combat Communications Group will be eliminated and 600 airmen assigned elsewhere.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL ccasteel@opubco.com Modified: March 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm •  Published: March 6, 2012

“This is just a meat-ax cut,” Inhofe said. “Why the 3rd Communications Group? They're not just reducing it in size — it's just wham, it's eliminated.”

Inhofe has repeatedly assailed President Barack Obama for the Defense Department reductions, and he said Tuesday that the cuts “jeopardize our future capability at a time of international insecurity.”

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said, “I am disappointed with the lack of information and rationale the Air Force has provided to members of Congress for this decision. Personnel and manpower decisions should be based on strategic and operational need. I will press the Air Force in the coming days to demonstrate the reasoning behind this difficult announcement.”

Gov. Mary Fallin also criticized the move.

“It is disturbing that President Obama is so eager to make billions of dollars in funding and personnel cuts to our military even while spending on entitlements and social programs continue to skyrocket,” she said.

Most of the reductions announced so far for Oklahoma bases have been relatively small and the result of broad reorganization efforts. However, a bigger blow was delivered to the Boeing Co.'s plans for Oklahoma City when the Air Force decided to cancel a contract to upgrade the cockpits of C-130s; that decision threatens an estimated half of the 550 jobs the company was set to move to Oklahoma City from Long Beach, Calif.

The 3rd Herd is known for going to barren sites and establishing a range of communications and computer systems, including air traffic control towers that it can staff with its own airmen. Its motto is “Anytime, Anywhere.”

In 2010, the unit won an Air Force-wide award for communications-electronics excellence for the fifth time in the 30-year history of the award.