Cannon granted fuel facility funds

Staff and wire reports

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, — The Pentagon on Friday released $13.2 million for Cannon Air Force Base in southeastern New Mexico, the state’s congressional delegation says.

The delegation in November asked the Pentagon to release the funds for a fuel storage and distribution system at the base near Clovis.

“Along with the new Consolidated Airmen’s Center, this project will help make Cannon an even better base for the Air Force Special Operations Command,” Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said in a release.

The money was included in a fiscal 2006 military and veterans appropriations bill, but was stalled when Cannon was threatened with closure after the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission ruled its F-16 fighter squadrons elsewhere.

However, the Department of Defense announced in June that Cannon would remain open and would become the Air Force’s 16th Special Operations Wing, bringing in various types of aircraft.

The delegation contended the funds should have been released then.

In a November letter, the delegation wrote, “We believe that progress on these important projects is necessary to ensure the men and women of AFSOC have the equipment and facilities they need to accomplish their mission.”

The base plans to build two jet fuel storage tanks and a loading facility to renovate 40-year-old facilities so commercial fuel deliveries can be unloaded safely.

“This is exactly the outcome we were hoping for,” said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. “Cannon Air Force Base needs to be prepared for its important new mission, and the upgraded facilities that will be completed with this funding will help accomplish that goal.”