Transition under way at Cannon

By Tonya Fennell: Freedom Newspapers

Cannon Air Force Base’s mission transition to the 16th Special Operations Wing has already begun, according to base commander Col. Scott West.

West, who has served as the 27th Fighter Wing’s commander for eight months, presented an informational slide show to city and county officials during a quarterly joint luncheon held Monday at the Clovis Civic Center.

The Special Ops Wing is scheduled to take over the base by October 2007. However, according to West, between 70 and 80 personnel from the 16th Wing are arriving at Cannon monthly.

“The 16th Special Operations Wing is already here,” West said, “and we (Cannon officials) are working on a seamless transition.”

Many of Cannon’s airman have expressed angst over the new mission, according to West. He said Cannon officials plan to manage each family individually, but each airman will be assigned to a base where their skills can be utilized.

“They (airman) want to know when they will move,” West said, “especially those families that have school-age children.”

Cannon personnel fall into four groups: Operations, support, maintenance and medical.

Of the four groups, operations and maintenance will change the most since both are directly linked to the F-16s, which will be dispersed to other bases once the new wing is in place. West said the last F-16 will depart Cannon in approximately a year and a half.

Support and medical will see little to no change with the transition. According to Cannon’s Public Affairs office, the mission support group has 1,000 personnel and includes security forces (police), firemen, contractors and communications. The medical group has 160 personnel, which includes doctors, nurses and support staff.

West also reported:

• Growth is expected to come with the new mission, so officials are examining the current base housing and dorm space, West said.

• Possible construction of a new medical facility on base is just a rumor.
“No hospital will be built,” West said. “It will remain a clinic.”

• 613 airman are deployed around the globe, with the majority at Balaad, Iraq. An additional 83 are scheduled to deploy soon.
“We (Cannon) are focused on readiness,” he said.