Air Force Cuts Could Trickle Down to Sheppard

- The Air Force has announced 25,000 active duty members will be cut in the next five years and 900 civilian jobs will be cut this year.

George Woodward with Sheppard Air Force Base and Congressman Mac Thornberry say it's too soon to tell exactly how Sheppard will be affected, so for now it's important to focus on what is going on with the overall military budget.

'We're still looking at flat military budgets for the next several years,” says Thornberry.

Congressman Thornberry says a huge portion of that budget goes to pay employees and benefit costs.

So as the entire country tries to tighten up on finances, Woodward says the Air Force has to be part of the solution. How much of that solution will be turned into cuts at Sheppard is unclear.

“But we know it will because if you reduce the size of the Air Force then you reduce the number of airmen that need to be trained and that's what we do here,” says Woodward.

Woodward says right now the job cuts are about shuffling money around to make sure all necessities are covered and those decisions often come down to personnel versus progress.

“We have aircrafts that we're flying that are more than fifty years old. The T-38 that we fly here at Sheppard is more than 50 years old. It's a great aircraft and it's still effective for training but it needs to be modernized,” says Woodward.

And when cuts are made, the Air Force is hoping to lessen the affects by offering people early retirement and voluntary separation.

No matter how the cuts shake out for Sheppard, both Woodward and Thornberry are confident the base will be okay.

“I think Sheppard is in very good shape, very strong,” says Thornberry.

“2016 is our 75th anniversary here in Wichita Falls and I think you are going to see Sheppard here and active and training airmen way into the future,” says Woodward.

Woodward says the 900 civilian jobs being cut doesn't necessarily mean 900 people will lose their jobs.

Seven thousand civilian positions are vacant right now in the Air Force,  so some of those cuts could come from those positions. People who do get their positions cut could be transferred to a different department.

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