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Defense Budget Could Force Cuts To Tinker AWACS Reservists

A United States Air Force AWACS does touch and go's over Midwest City - October 2013.
Kool Cats Photography
Flickr Creative Commons

A reserve unit housed at Tinker Air Force Base that performs Airborne Warning and Control System missions would be deactivated if lawmakers pass the fiscal year 2015 defense budget.

The 513th Air Control Group partners with active duty military to provide crews and personnel during the AWACS missions. Unit commander Col. David Robinson says 345 citizen Airmen would be affected by the cuts.

"Most of them work and live in the local Oklahoma communities and have for most of their career,” Robertson said in a statement. “Most consider themselves adoptive Oklahomans and truly care for their communities. Until the proposal is enacted into law, we will continue to perform our command and control mission while staying committed and focused on the future of our Airmen."

The unit was most recently deployed to Southwest Asia in 2012 to provide support over Afghanistan. It also served in Iraq and ran counter-narcotics operations in South America.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) says he’s disappointed the reductions would inactivate the seven Reserve AWACS housed at Tinker, located within his Fourth Congressional District.

“AWACS aircraft have been dispatched by NATO to fly over Poland and Romania to monitor the crisis in the Ukraine, stressing the need for more reconnaissance capability rather than less in this dangerous world,” Cole said in a statement. “With this budget, our nation is taking on more risk than in previous years, and our ability to respond effectively and immediately to our enemies could be diminished, unless the president works with Congress to make tough decisions in the months ahead.”

A study from the financial management office of the 507th Air Refueling Wing estimates the 513th had a nearly $33 million impact on Oklahoma in fiscal year 2013.


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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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