Staff Sgt. Douglass Nelson of the 3rd Combat Communications Group during a deployment in Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Byrd / U.S. Air Force

Oklahoma Will Lose Hundreds of Jobs in Air Force Cuts

  • Joe Wertz

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Byrd / U.S. Air Force

Staff Sgt. Douglass Nelson of the 3rd Combat Communications Group during a deployment in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday announced plans to close a communications unit at Tinker Air Force Base where 600 servicemen and women work.

The 3rd Combat Communications Group — known as the 3rd Herd — will be eliminated during a round of personnel changes the Air Force is planning for its domestic bases.

Tinker is losing 948 positions in all, including active-duty military, reserve personnel and civilian workers.

Most of those losses are from the 3rd Herd, according to an Air Force press statement released yesterday.

The five-squadron unit provides communications, computer and navigational systems and air traffic control and is part of the Air Force Space Command’s 24th Air Force.

The Air Force has not released a timeline for the unit’s deactivation, but servicemen and women will likely be reassigned.

Senior Airman Leandra D. Stepp / U.S. Air Force

Airman 1st Class Ronald Fallows practices refueling an aircraft in a flight simulator at Altus Air Force Base, which is expected to lose 109 personnel.

Additional cuts at Tinker and at other state air bases were announced in November. In all, Oklahoma is losing 1,131 military and civilian Air Force personnel.

“Our primary responsibility right now is to take care of our Airmen and their families in the 3CCG as they begin to transition to other units,” Col. Joseph Scherrer, commander of the 689th Combat Communications Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado said in a statement.

The unit at Tinker will be cut, but another combat communications unit will be maintained through the 5th Combat Communications Group at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, reports the Associated Press.

Here’s the breakdown from U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe:

Air Force and Civilian Personnel Losses in Oklahoma

Tinker Air Force Base -948
Altus Air Force Base -109
Will Rogers World Airport -43
Vance Air Force Base -31
Norman -2
Tulsa +2

Eighteen positions are being added at Altus Air Force Base and eight in the Tulsa area, Inhofe spokesman Jared Young tells StateImpact Oklahoma. Inhofe, R-Tulsa, learned of additional changes in briefings he had with Air Force officials this week, Young said.

On Monday, Inhofe attended a Greater Oklahoma City Chamber-sponsored luncheon with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, the service’s top uniformed leader.

Oklahoma’s military installations were “well-positioned” to survive defense cuts, city and state leaders said.

Schwartz didn’t inform Inhofe or civic leaders at the luncheon about the decision to eliminate the communications unit, which passed a rigorous inspection just last month, reports The Oklahoman’s Chris Casteel.

Inhofe said Tuesday he didn’t blame Schwartz for not divulging information that was under embargo.

Air Force cuts were expected, but Inhofe — who routinely assails defense spending cuts proposed by President Barack Obama — pledged to fight the 3rd Herd cut, which he called “extremely disappointing.”