NM bases may escape military cuts

Updated: 02/27/2014 8:56 AM | Created: 02/27/2014 8:54 AM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The nation is preparing for the biggest reduction in military forces since before World War II, but New Mexico may escape the cutbacks.

Sherman McCorkle did the heavy lifting that saved Kirtland Air Force Base in 1996 and Cannon Air Force Base in 2005. Today with the Kirtland partnership, he monitors every move in national defense spending.

He says the state will avoid most of the cuts because they are planned for the Army and New Mexico is mostly Air Force.

"I think the headline is New Mexico got lucky," McCorkle said. "This is a big reduction, so for a state to go unaffected is pretty fortunate."

Kirtland's special operations mission should keep the base off the chopping block.

"The criterion is military value, military value, military value. That's what it's all about," said Stuart Purviance, executive director of Kirtland AFB.

When asked if Kirtland had value, Purviance answered, "Absolutely. Kirtland has several missions that are critical to the nation's defense."

It's the same for Cannon AFB in Clovis. The base's special operations mission focuses on fast-growing drone technology.

Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo is also still healthy despite the departure of the F-22 Raptor Fighters.

"The F-16s that are coming from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to Holloman--those 32-35 F-16s will continue to move here during calendar year 2014 and finish up in calendar year 15," McCorkle said.

That leaves White Sands Missile Range, operated by the Army, and the Army's Fort Bliss, which is headquartered in El Paso, but about 90 percent of the base sits in New Mexico.

Kirtland analysts say White Sands should remain unaffected by Army cutbacks. Fort Bliss is likely to grow in population when troops are brought back from overseas.

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