OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
Almost four years after a devastating flood brought 720 million gallons of flood water onto the southeastern portion of the installation, ground was broken on the 55th Security Forces Squadron’s new campus March 9, 2023.
The $68.5 million campus will eventually bring the Recon Raiders back together as they have been spread across the base in multiple facilities since the March 2019 flood.
“This is a big step forward,” said Col. Jasin Cooley, 55th Mission Support Group commander. “We still have a long path ahead of us, but this groundbreaking is an important milestone.”
The 55th SFS suffered some of the worst damage from the flood, including a total loss of their headquarters building, combat arms training facility and military working dog kennels and training area.
“Six hundred and fourteen Air Force, Navy and civilian personnel had to find a new place to operate,” Cooley said. “Consider for a moment what it means to lose everything familiar to you and the place you work – the history, the heritage – and the processes which are inextricably to that physical environment. In other words, the way we do things.”
None the less, the Recon Raiders have not only continued to accomplish their mission, but they’ve flourished. So much so that they have earned the best security forces squadron in the Air Force award two years in a row.
“I was not here when the flood happened, but I’ve heard all the stories about what the defenders went through,” said Lt. Col. Cameron Maher, 55th SFS commander. “But what I did not hear were any stories where the defenders took a knee in providing base security and force protection for Offutt Air Force Base and that makes me very proud.”
The new SFS campus will be comprised of three separate facilities totaling more than 100,000 square feet. This includes an operations control center, combined combat arms training and maintenance facility, military working dog facility and mobility and logistics storage area.
“I have never seen security forces get anything brand new in my career; it’s very rare,” Maher said. “So, for the defenders who’ll be around when this opens up, I’m very happy for them.”
With an eye on the future and the area’s unpredictable weather, the new campus is being constructed on ground built up roughly 10 feet high. In addition, the levees to the south and east of the installation have been raised, both of which should help alleviate any future flooding issues.
“We are very grateful for the support we’ve received on this project,” Maher said. “For everyone who has had a hand getting this to where we are today, it's pure gratitude.”
The SFS campus is one of eight new campuses that’ll be built over the next several years. It is scheduled to be complete in November 2024.