Okla Economic Report: Defense Dividends

By:  Sen. Jim Inhofe
Oklahoma Economic Report

Not only does a strong military secure our soil from foreign threats, but it also proves to be a strong investment in our economy. Oklahoma proudly represents the military with its five installations that contributes more than 64,000 jobs for our state’s economy.  Other direct economic impacts come in the form of military construction projects, service contracts, and expenditures for equipment and materials – all vital to the mission of the Department of Defense (DOD).  

Altus Air Force Base (AFB), which trains aircrews in the C-17 and KC-135, was recently selected to house the first formal training unit for the new KC-46A tankers.  This exciting announcement will bring eight aircraft to Altus along with new military construction and jobs focused on providing maintenance and technical support.  The operations at Altus AFB recently contributed over $519 million to Oklahoma’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  

Fort Sill is the home of the Army’s Fires Center of Excellence and is responsible for providing basic training and developing our air defense and artillery into a lethal force.  The 94,000 acre installation employs over 27,000 soldiers and Marines and an additional 6,000 federal civilians and contractors.  If Fort Sill continues to conduct operations at a pace similar to that of recent years, employment impacts would average 52,056 jobs in Oklahoma’s economy.  

McAlester Army Ammunition Plant provides the fire-power for our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen to employ during both training and for combat operations overseas.  It recently contributed to over $203 million to Oklahoma’s GDP and is projected to account for $223.7 million by 2015.  

Tinker AFB provides depot maintenance to aircraft in the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve, the Air National Guard, Navy, and our foreign allied units.  They serve as Oklahoma’s largest single-site employer and contributed $4.4 billion to Oklahoma’s GDP in 2010. 

Vance AFB, originally created to serve as a flight school for thousands of WWII pilots, has evolved into the home station of the 71st Flying Training Wing and trains one-third of our Air Force pilots, employing over 2,700 personnel.  

Oklahomans have a deep-rooted passion for supporting our armed forces.  Our five installations serve as pillars of their respective communities, and they each provide the citizens of Oklahoma with economic value, stability and a genuine sense of patriotism.

It is more important now than ever we continue to stand in strong support of our military here in Oklahoma as our national defense faces uncertain times. The President has tried to fix our economy by putting into motion more than $1 trillion in cuts to the DOD while increasing non-defense spending by 30 percent. Thousands of Oklahomans have faced furloughs and layoffs because of it, and the result has been a stagnant national economy. For the sake of our nation, our brave men and women in uniform, and our local economies, we can no longer accept Washington putting its fiscal problems on the backs of our military.