Air Force representatives talk transition

Air Force Special Operations Command spokeswoman Lt. Amy Cooper and 73rd Special Operations Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Tom Markland answered some questions last week about how Cannon Air Force Base’s transition from a fighter wing to a special operations wing is going.

Q: How many MC-130Ws are currently at Cannon?
A: There are four MC-130Ws assigned to the 73rd Special Operations Squadron. The fleet will eventually reach 12, but due to recurring, required depot-level maintenance, technical upgrades, off-station aircrew training and combat deployments, they will probably not ever be on Cannon’s flightline at one time.

Q: How many Airmen have been stationed at Cannon as part of the new mission?
A: We currently have 2,295 active duty, 3,315 family members and 550 civilians assigned to Cannon Air Force Base. As of Oct. 1, 2007’s change of command, all of these individuals are assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command and are part of the new mission.

Q: How many more Airmen and planes are expected to come and when?
A: At this time, there are no specific numbers or a specific timeline attached to inbound personnel or aircraft, other than the inbound members of the 73rd Special Operations Squadron.

Q: When will construction projects begin and what are they?
A: There have been several ongoing construction projects on Cannon. A new Airman’s Center is currently under development, the new Aerospace Ground Equipment maintenance facility was opened recently and out of date military housing near the clinic has been torn down to make way for future projects. The construction process is a long one and plans must be drafted, money allocated and contracting bids awarded before any physical construction can begin.

Q: Will the 73rd SOS be at full strength by February as previously reported?
A: All 73rd Special Operations Squadron members originally stationed at Hurlburt (Field) who are eligible to move will be moved by Feb. 1. Since the unit is new and will continue to grow over the next few years, this is ultimately only a fraction of this squadron’s eventual size.

— Compiled by Freedom New Mexico writer Sharna Johnson