Officials: Cannon closure unlikely

Darrell Todd Maurina

A special committee of business and government leaders appointed to help keep New Mexico’s military bases is coming to Clovis today. The group’s chair, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, said she’s optimistic the state will present enough incentives to keep not only Cannon Air Force Base but also the state’s other three bases open despite a planned federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process in 2005.
Pentagon officials have said the Department of Defense has about 25 percent too much capacity and needs to reduce the number of military installations to be efficient.
Denish said the 15 members of the New Mexico Military Base Planning Commission recently visited Pentagon and congressional officials in Washington and during today’s meeting will discuss state expenditures to keep bases in New Mexico.
“We will keep that (federal) momentum moving, and also discuss the omnibus bill that needs to be passed by the legislature to put us in the most positive position for BRAC,” Denish said.
Denish said specific items for discussion will include increased funding for schools, amending the gross receipts tax laws to assist research and development facilities, and general infrastructure work to upgrade facilities near New Mexico’s military bases.
Denish said the major assets possessed by Cannon include large amounts of airspace and lack of civilian encroachment on the base that make training difficult and sometimes dangerous.
“We think all of our bases, including Cannon, have the potential to do very well in the upcoming BRAC process,” Denish said. “Our mission is to save all the bases so we’re not looking at alternate plans of what to do in the event of a closure.”
The group’s meeting at the boardroom of Clovis Community College is open to the public and will run from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. today, with a tour of the Melrose bombing range following the event