SENATOR douses Tinker closure speculation

Thursday, May 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Speculation that Tinker Air Force Base might be targeted for closing in the next few years is untrue, Sen. Jim Inhofe says.

Inhofe, R-Okla., released an Air Force official's letter Wednesday that said Congress has not approved new rounds of base closings and that ``the Air Force has not initiated any evaluations at any locations.''

The letter was written by Jimmy G. Dishner, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force.

``Reports that Tinker is being targeted by the Air Force for closure are simply not true,'' Inhofe said. ``There is no evaluation by the Air Force suggesting that Tinker is threatened in any way. Idle speculation to the contrary by the media serves no useful purpose.''

A recent issue of The Kiplinger Letter, a weekly newsletter published in Washington, says two rounds of base closings are planned, for 2003 and 2005. The newsletter says that Tinker is a potential target but provides no sources for its information.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has not formally asked Congress to approve more rounds of closures, saying he is waiting for an evaluation of the force structure before making recommendations. President Bush's budget does contemplate two rounds of closures.

The last round of base closures was in 1995.

Tinker and the Air Force's two other depots, in Utah and Georgia, are huge, expensive operations that would be very costly to close, in part because of the amount of work that must be moved to other locations and because of the environmental cleanup that would take years.