Friday, June 23, 2006


…news for The High Plains:

ALBUQUERQUE — Cannon Air Force Base, threatened with closure after its F-16 fighter squadrons were ordered elsewhere, will become a special operations base that will train crews to fight the war on terror, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The Air Force's 16th Special Operations Wing will move to Cannon by October 2007, the state's congressional delegation and Gov. Bill Richardson announced on a conference call.

My first reaction? Great! Now all those jobs won’t be lost, the housing market won’t tank, the base hospital clinic and commissary will remain open… My second reaction? Oh, great. Now I’ll probably never frickin’ leave this place. But, seriously. This is good news.

The transition will start this summer, and the change of command is scheduled for Oct. 1, 2007, said Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.

… the consensus among those on the conference call was that the eastern New Mexico base probably will gain not only troops but airplanes — going from 72 F-16s currently stationed there to 94 planes of different types.

Cannon is expected to get two types of helicopters, the CH53 and CH47; two gunships, the MC130 and the AC130U; and eventually, the V22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, said Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.

The Pentagon said in a later news release Tuesday officials have not determined the exact aircraft mix between Cannon and Hurlburt Field, Fla., where the 16th is currently based. Hurlburt will become the 1st Special Operations Wing and will continue as headquarters of the Air Force Special Operations Command once Cannon takes over the 16th wing designation.

The new wing will train at night, using Melrose Bombing Range adjacent to Cannon. Special operations training at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque likewise is conducted at night.

The Pentagon had recommended closing the base as part of an effort to streamline the nation's military complex. But the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission said Cannon was valuable and could have a future use.

The commission last August accepted the Pentagon's recommendation to send Cannon's three fighter squadrons elsewhere — but stopped short of closing the base.

Cannon could have shut down if a new mission was not found by Dec. 31, 2009.

With that risk averted, the mood of those on the conference call was exuberant.

Closing Cannon — a fixture in the area for 55 years — would have eliminated more than 2,700 jobs at the base and an additional 2,000 indirect jobs, which community and state leaders argued would devastate eastern New Mexico.

Cannon's economic impact was put at $200 million annually.

By one estimate, shuttering the base would have cost one in three jobs in Clovis and nearby Portales; forced the closure of three elementary schools; and sent a booming housing market into a nosedive with the sudden availability of 2,000 vacant homes.

The whole article is here. But there isn’t a lot more, all the meat is above.


  1. Hey Buck! I read this yesterday on, too. It was really cool to see you'd be getting a Talon II and a [Spectre/Gray Ghost/Puff] Spooky AC-130U! (the representative said 2 gunships and lumped the MC-130 in as one of them). MC-130E is a Talon I and an MC-130H a Talon II - both are my FAVORITE 130s! She used to always have the WHISKERS on front - not really used anymore. ;) Ohh, and the MC-130P is sweeeeet ... Combat Shadow ... there's a mission (had a couple of those at Rhein Main AFB too)

    I keep in touch with the folks over at Hurlburt and the 7th SOS. Great bunch of folks - and VERY loyal to one another. I'm lucky to at least be included as I supported them while at Rhein Main AFB 82-84. Just an awesome mission they have, I can say.

    It's be REALLY COOL if they brought some EC-130 and HC-130s your way! I just love the sound of a 130 on JATO! ;) I suspect you'll get to hear some of that when on base.

    Ohhh! And, if you can see them on the range, the chaff/flares from the Talon IIs and tracers from the AC-130 'll be AWESOME!!!

    OK, I'll calm down now. LUCKY YOU!

    (sorry you're not going to be able to see the Fighting Falcon anymore!)

  2. I hear ya about SpecOps and Hurlburt, Steve. One just has to feel a lil bit sorry for those folks at Hurlburt who will have to make the move from the Fla Panhandle to The High Plains. All things considered, the Panhandle is a LOT more desireable location than Cannon... I speak from experience, having house-sat for a buddy down in Fort Walton Beach for a couple of months in 1999 - 2000.

    I won't be able to see the 130s on the Melrose Range, it's BVR from where I sit. But... I DO have memories of watching those guys circle over the Eglin range, dispensing flares and firing off that 105mm...WHOOMP! WHOOMP! The sound of the mini-guns didn't carry well, but that 105... I'd sure hate to be on the receiving end of "greetings" from those guys.


Just be polite... that's all I ask.