General Levy discusses current, future Tinker needs during annual symposium
By John Parker, Staff Writer
/ Published August 28, 2015
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
The Air Force needs private industry to help field new weapon systems faster and the nation requires more graduates in scientific and technical fields to maintain America's edge in combat air power, the head of the Air Force Sustainment Center said recently.
Lt. Gen. Lee Levy II addressed more than 800 attendees, including scores of defense contractors, Aug. 18 at the 10th annual Tinker and the Primes Requirements Symposium in Midwest City. The general and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin were keynote speakers at the three-day event.
The commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center with more than 35,000 personnel in Oklahoma, Utah and Georgia said some potential adversary nations possess the industrial and technological means to take new weapon systems "from idea to hardware" in 18 months.
"That ought to give us all pause, right?" General Levy said. "Because in modern warfare the pace of warfare is almost instantaneous. In some cases it's simply the speed of electrons."
The Air Force will need faster development times for new innovations in areas as diverse as swarming unmanned aerial systems, space and cyberspace capabilities and micro-robots, the general said.
"Other nations who wish to do us harm sometimes field hardware capabilities a lot quicker than we do, and all of us in this room are partners in that strategic agility that's essential to going faster to delivering those combat capabilities sooner at a more affordable cost so we can afford to get ready not only for today, but for the future," the general said.
Representatives hailing from prime contractors such as Northrop Grumman to Oklahoma aerospace companies traveled from 34 states and three countries to network and learn about Tinker Air Force Base's current and future needs. Tinker directors, managers and engineers conducted multiple presentations on those subjects.
General Levy also encouraged professionals, elected officials, parents and teachers to continue inspiring students to pursue the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.
"When I look at the requirements in the future for software engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and computer scientists, I think at the Air Force Sustainment Center I could hire every single one that's produced in the state of Georgia, the state of Oklahoma and the state of Utah and still not have enough people to fill all the chairs that I need to fill."
Governor Fallin praised the work of the Midwest City Chamber of Commerce and Rose State for hosting the annual symposium that helps fuel Oklahoma businesses, innovation and jobs. Tinker packs a $3.5 billion economic impact for the state.
"We understand the importance of partnership, the importance of community support for Tinker Air Force Base, our men and women who wear the uniform, and our civilians, who serve our great nation," the governor said.
Symposium organizers also honored retired Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield. The former AFSC commander was awarded the symposium's inaugural Tinker and the Primes Patriot Award for his outstanding achievements for the Air Force and Oklahoma. The award inscription quotes the general's signature saying.
"I know the award says, 'It's a great day to fly,' but that's not my job anymore," General Litchfield said. "So I'm going to tell you this in my (retirement) coming out party that it's my job, it's my responsibility, to make this a great day to thrive and that's what I'm going to work to do. It's not about flying anymore. It's about America thriving, and I think that's what we all need to rally around and that's what's going to make America great. That's why this award is so special to me."