Sheppard Air Force Base Officials Address Drought-Related Rumors

- Sheppard Air Force Base officials say Wichita County is the perfect place to house an Air Force base even with the drought.

George Woodward, public affairs director, says, "For flying training, the weather here is perfect for flying training. The open ranges that we have around the area that we can fly and train in are fantastic."

While rumors are circulating that the continuing drought might force the base to move missions, or even worse, close, officials say they want the community to know that Sheppard isn't going anywhere.

"Nobody's planning to close the base," Woodward says. "Sheppard's going to be here for a long time."

Woodward does say, though, that contingency plans are being made just in case.

"At the same time, we're the military," Woodward says. "We plan for everything. We plan for tornadoes. We plan for hurricanes. We plan for every kind of disaster imaginable. Yes, we are making plans to make sure our mission can continue no matter what happens, but that doesn't mean we're planning to close the base."

Those plans could include a brief move for some missions.

"We may have to divert some training to another base temporarily if the water situation gets really, really bad," Woodward says.

But he says those missions would likely come back to Sheppard once the water situation improves.

With deep roots in the area, Woodward says he wants the community to know base officials want the partnership to continue no matter what.

"The city and the base have worked together for almost 75 years," Woodward says. "We've worked through all kinds of problems and issues and we're going to keep working together and we'll get through this."

As a matter of fact, some missions at Sheppard are actually expanding as new programs are being added.

Negotiations are underway to extend the Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, or ENJJPT, for another 10 years.

In addition, there are tech training missions that are being moved to the 82nd Training Wing at Sheppard.

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