SAFB to get huge personnel influx

WASHINGTON -- About 2,300 more airmen will land at Sheppard Air Force Base for training in the near future because the Air Force is ramping up manpower, officials said.

That’s about 55 percent of the total increase in manpower expected for fiscal year 2009, George Woodward, base public affairs director, said. It’s uncertain how many more airmen the service will recruit in fiscal year 2010.

“But it is likely that about half will be trained at Sheppard since about 55 percent of all Air Force technical training graduates are trained by the 82nd Training Wing,” Woodward said.

The base will also receive new permanent instructors to teach the influx of students, but officials don’t know how many yet, he said.

Meanwhile, the base will increase some class sizes, extend the tours of duty of some instructors and take other steps to meet demand, Woodward said.

Sheppard has adequate facilities for the airmen coming in and more, he said.

“However, many of our facilities are aging and will need to be upgraded or replaced so we can continue to provide the quality of life these young airmen deserve,” Woodward said.

Sheppard is working closely with the Air Education and Training Command to make that happen, he said.

The influx of service members could help fill the gap left by the coming departure of basic medical training students and instructors from Sheppard. The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the creation of a medical-training hub in San Antonio.

So the base is due to lose more than 2,200 students, more than 500 permanent military positions and 85 civilian positions to Fort Sam Houston, officials have estimated.