For four decades, Germany has sent pilots to the United States for training. On May 1, 1996, this bilateral military cooperation took an important step forward when Defense Secretary Perry and German Defense Minister Rühe activated the German Air Force Tactical Training Center (TTC) at Holloman Air Force Base (AFB) in New Mexico. By October 1999, the Germans plan to have 24 F-4 Phantom and 42 Tornado jets, together with roughly 900 German Air Force staff members at Holloman. The two governments praised this undertaking as another sign of their continuing, strong alliance. Many analysts argue that the most important benefit of an increasing German military presence in the United States may be to enhance opportunities for cooperation at a time when the United States has dramatically reduced its military presence in Europe. Some observers, however, have raised concerns. For one, they have expressed unease with what they interpret as a permanent foreign military base on U.S. soil. In response, the Pentagon has pointed out that the TTC is a tenant training unit at Holloman AFB which remains under the operational control of the U.S. Air Force 49th Fighter Wing Commander. Critics have also maintained that the United States is shouldering the cost of the TTC. In fact, the Germans are financing the entire operation. Reports also indicate that the increased German presence is providing an economic boost to the region.