Cannon transition underfunded

Freedom Newspapers

The transition to a new mission at Cannon Air Force Base is woefully underfunded in a proposed 2008 military budget, according to a press release from Sen. Pete Domenici, R.-N.M.

The approximately $72.5 million Domenici said is needed to establish Air Force Special Operations at Cannon is not included in President Bush’s 2008 Defense Department budget, the release said.

Unfunded Cannon projects range from $4 million for planning and design requirements to $31.5 million for fuel cell/corrosion control facilities, according to the release.

“Cannon’s transition from an F-16 fighter wing base to an AFSOC base will require significant military construction. I am concerned … (about unfunded construction),” Domenici said Wednesday.

The projected costs far exceed the $9.2 million military construction recommendation included in the 2008 budget that would cover two Cannon projects:

• Construction of a $7.5 million MC-130 flight simulator facility, and

• A $1.7 million renovation of a hangar for C-130 aircraft.

Domenici pressed Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England during a Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee meeting Wednesday to commit to providing the millions needed to smooth the transition at Cannon.

In response to questioning from Domenici, England assured Domenici AFSOC will take ownership of Cannon in October 2007.

The Department of Defense announced in June that Cannon — which had been threatened with closing — would remain open and would become the Air Force’s 16th Special Operations Wing, bringing in various types of aircraft.

England said the Pentagon has programmed more than $200 million through the Future Years Defense Plan for Cannon, according to the release
Cannon advocate and Clovis resident Randy Harris is confident Cannon will receive the funding it needs.

“I am not concerned at all,” Harris said. “People like Senator Domenici are watching, and they know what the needs are for Cannon.”

Domenici was not satisfied with the Defense Secretary’s answers and plans to continue to look for ways to address Cannon’s needs this year, according to the release.