Sen. Cornyn tours Sheppard

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE - U.S. Senator John Cornyn toured Sheppard Air Force Base on Tuesday and spoke with leaders about matters vital to SAFB and to the nation's military readiness.

Sen. Cornyn said he wanted to tour SAFB because of the great training it provides for those like Franklin Robinson and our NATO partners.

"Little push, little pick," Robinson said. "Everybody says 'Hey, big man's down here seeing us and keeping us going.' Showing us how he actually does care and likes to see us out there."

Sen. Cornyn said he wants to make sure our service members at Sheppard are getting the resources and support they need financially.

"This base plays such an outside role because it's the largest and most diverse training base in the U.S. Air Force Education Training Command," Cornyn said.

While at Sheppard, Sen. Cornyn met with the Vice Commanders of the 82nd and 80th Flying Training Wings, leaders from Sheppard Military Affairs Committee and Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana.

"I'm still battling the wind farms," Santellana said. "I want to make sure that stays relevant, that education piece stays relevant in the senator's mind when it comes to defense bills, and basically setting those perimeters and restrictions on these wind farms that are encroaching upon Sheppard.

On September 1, wind energy companies will no longer receive tax credits for building wind farms within 25 miles of military air space in Texas after Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 277 in June.

When it comes to wind farms, Senator Cornyn said he'd like to see a peaceful coexistence between military installations and renewable energy for national security.

"This is not about whether you believe in clean energy or not, but the fact of life is the proliferation of wind farms around our training bases have not only proven a danger to pilots," Cornyn said. "It's limited their ability to train in conditions that are important to their advancement and their improvement of those skills."

The senator also talked of the shortage of pilots and maintenance personnel and the need he says to continue rebuilding the military.

"I don't have to remind you we have $20 trillion in national debt," Cornyn said. "Sooner or later this is going to come home and somebody's going to have to pay the bill.  So, this is a very serious matter, but clearly the most urgent and paramount need is national security. I believe we need to do what we need to do to keep the country safe and support our men and women in uniform as we try to figure out the other part of that equation."

Sen. Cornyn believes things are moving in the right direction, though. Mayor Santellena agrees, saying 66,000 students are expected to go through Sheppard in 2018, which he says is up from 60,000 in 2016.

Senator Cornyn, who is also the current Senate Majority Whip, introduced language in the National Defense Authorization Act to discourage the development of wind farms near military airfields and along training routes.

Senate debate on that is expected next month. 


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