Lt. Gen. Lee Levy II fondly uses the term airmen to describe both military and civilian personnel at Tinker Air Force Base.
While many wear the uniform of the military, the Commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center says all play a crucial role in protecting the nation’s security.
“If you’re engaged in supporting airmen and their families, providing to that common defense, you’re an airmen,” said Levy, Tuesday morning during the 11th annual Tinker and the Primes Requirements Symposium.
Levy says the military needs more support than ever from those in the public and private sectors. The country faces a growing global threat, while operating with aging and depleted resources. Levy said many of the buildings at Tinker were constructed in the 1940s. And many planes they fly are not much newer.
“Your Air Force is the smallest and oldest it’s been since its inception,” Levy said. “And I’d offer that the threats to nation more grave than they have ever been.”
Levy said the types of software systems on the aircraft are becoming as vital as the engine and wings.
“Now we think about maintaining the B-52, F-16, or C-5, but tomorrow it will be about how we take care of the ones and zeros (binary code) inside those things,” Levy said. “That will be the weapon system of tomorrow. How do we launch ones and zeros at our target.”
Sustaining and maintaining the aircraft requires strong partnerships from companies large and small. Levy said those partnerships need to benefit both sides.
“There has to be ability to collectively improve our performance and allow enough profit margin for you as a company,” he said.
Levy said Tinker also relies on the local community for support. A strong educational system is necessary to provide a qualified workforce for tomorrow. Levy commended local schools as well as the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University for their support.
“We need the education system to produce young men and women that grow up to be engineers, scientists, tech experts and mathematicians,” he said. “If we do not have a vibrant school system at the primary, secondary and university levels, then Tinker will wither and die in time.”
Levy said a strong local economy is also vital to the base. The military is a huge economic driver in the state of Oklahoma, especially in the Mid-Del area. Levy said Tinker employs more than 26,000 people while the state’s four main military installations represent a $10 billion impact to the state.
Following Levy’s speech, event organizers presented retired Navy Capt. John Keilty with the second annual Tinker and the Primes Patriot Award. Keilty served 30 years in the U.S. Navy and retired in 2001 as the Commodore of Tinker’s Navy Strategic Communications Air Wing ONE. Following his military career, Keilty has served as a teacher, coach and athletic director at Mount St. Mary’s High School.
“I don’t know what to say except thank you,” Keilty said. “… Fly, fight, win means a lot to me. I live it every day. And I love this country.”
The 11th Annual Tinker and the Primes Requirements Symposium took place Aug. 22-24 at the Sheraton Midwe
st City Hotel at the Reed Conference Center. Tinker and the Primes is hosted by the Midwest City Chamber of Commerce, Rose State College and the City of Midwest City in partnership with Tinker Air Force Base and numerous advisors.
The Tinker and the Primes Requirements Symposium is an international business opportunity attracting hundreds of aerospace, defense and government contracting businesses and organizations from across 27 states and four countries.
The three-day requirements symposium gives small businesses, prime contractors and government agencies the opportunity to network and share needs
and capabilities in hopes of doing business with one another.