WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today participated in a ceremony at Tinker Air Force base recognizing the Sept. 24 signing of a low-cost, long-term Air Force lease with Oklahoma County for 407 acres of land and 3.8 million gross square feet of real property, of which 3.5 million square feet is industrial and administrative space. The leased property is the site of the new Tinker Aerospace Complex. Senator Inhofe, who was instrumental in making the lease signing a reality, joined Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Lt. Gen. Terry Gabreski, Air Force Materiel Command vice commander, Maj. Gen Reno, Oklahoma Air Logistics Center Commander, Lt Gov Askins, County Commissioner Vaughn, State Treasurer Scott Meacham, as well as several other military and civic leaders.
"It's wonderful to be here today with friends of Tinker Air Force Base and friends of the United States Air Force as we celebrate this historic day," Senator Inhofe said. "The Tinker community-Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, the State of Oklahoma, and the United States Air Force all came together to do something that is unprecedented in cooperative national security efforts between the federal, state, and local governments.
"Undoubtedly, this is great news for Tinker, Oklahoma City and the entire state as this will likely lead to new jobs and greater economic development. The GM Plant will give the base flexibility to accommodate new military work, leverage new processes and create partnerships with private sector suppliers. In this age of constrained budgets, aging aircraft, and acquisition reform, we must continually seek ways to create efficiencies and cut waste wherever we can. We are facing budget constraints like never before; being forced to meet the needs of our service men and women serving overseas, recapitalizing our fleets of ground vehicles and aircraft, and at the same investing in the modernization and transformation of our force.
"There have been times when it looked like this project was dead but we persevered. In the end, we set Oklahoma City and Tinker Air Force Base on a path of future growth and success. None of this would have been possible without the dedication and support that this community has shown. Many of you have heard me say that there is no greater supporter of the United States military than the communities that exist within this state. This effort proves this to be true beyond any doubt. Throughout this entire process, the discussions I repeatedly heard from local leaders was how this would benefit Tinker and the Air Force. I am so proud to serve the people of Oklahoma, who always seek out that which is best for our country. Today is about a beginning and about the future and I thank everyone who played a role in the GM Plant acquisition"
Secretary Donley said the community initiative to acquire the facility and lease it to the Air Force is "... yet another example of how the great state of Oklahoma and Tinker's surrounding communities work together in an unprecedented partnership to preserve and enhance our national security." He also said the facility will enhance operations at Tinker and provide long term benefits to the Air Force.
Senator Inhofe Remarks As Prepared for Delivery
I have long said that investing in Tinker Air Force Base is an investment in Oklahoma's future. Tinker is the largest single-site employer in Oklahoma and plays a major role not only in our national defense but has long been a cornerstone of our state's economic activity, particularly the aerospace industry. Tinker Air Force Base is vital to supporting operations of both the US Air Force and the US Navy.
With the closure of the GM plant, Tinker was given a unique opportunity to consolidate, increase efficiency, reduce costs, and bring future partnerships into one building that is adjacent to the base. The availability and location of the GM plant coupled with Tinker's need to replace substandard facilities made this proposal an ideal match. By moving the operations of 21 buildings into the new Tinker Aerospace Complex, Tinker Air Force Base will save approximate $2.6 million annually in energy costs and approximately $300 million in military construction costs when the moves are complete. It will allow the Air Force to put several hundred civilians working in three large inadequately air conditioned older facilities into one modern facility and provide them the kind of work environment this world class workforce deserves.
Undoubtedly, this is great news for Tinker, Oklahoma City and the entire state as this will likely lead to new jobs and greater economic development. The GM Plant will give the base flexibility to accommodate new military work, leverage new processes and create partnerships with private sector suppliers. In this age of constrained budgets, aging aircraft, and acquisition reform, we must continually seek ways to create efficiencies and cut waste wherever we can. We are facing budget constraints like never before; being forced to meet the needs of our service men and women serving overseas, recapitalizing our fleets of ground vehicles and aircraft, and at the same investing in the modernization and transformation of our force.
Providing for our national defense is one of the most important roles of the federal government. In order to maintain the world's most formidable military, we must provide it with the best resources, support, and technology. We must also continue to make the critical investments required to modernize and transform our military so that we may confidently confront the challenges of the future. Without this low-cost lease, it would have been impossible to consolidate the aging buildings on Tinker Air Force Base and create the efficiencies and realize the savings that will come about because of it.
I applaud the Air Force for identifying the positive impact that this acquisition will have on operations at Tinker, and I applaud the city, county, and state of Oklahoma for taking this very necessary step to ensuring that Tinker Air Force Base remains a premier installation of the United States military.