Cannon Air Force Base to lose personnel in Special Ops base shift

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4 Investigates has confirmed the U.S. Air Force plans to move personnel from Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico as it restructures where highly specialized units are housed within the U.S. system of military bases.

Cannon will be impacted by what the Air Force calls “programmatic basing decisions” for its Special Operations Wings. The Eastern New Mexico base is one of two domestic Air Force bases that house special ops wings, the other being Hurlburt Field in Florida’s panhandle.

“Members of the New Mexico Congressional delegation were briefed today by the secretary of the Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Becky Heyse of Air Force Special Operations Command. She did not offer specifics about the move, saying those will come from the Air Force next week.

KOB contacted the offices of Sens. Heinrich and Luján, as well as the office of Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, who represents the 3rd Congressional District where Cannon is located. None of the delegation offered a comment.

A source familiar with the briefing told KOB that the impact is likely to be in the hundreds and perhaps not immediate. The base has between 5,000 and 6,000 active-duty service members, with thousands of family members and retired service members living in the immediate community.

“We are committed to Cannon Air Force Base,” said Heyse. “We plan to maintain a robust presence for the forseeable future.”

It’s clear New Mexico’s federal representatives were both aware of the possibility that Cannon might lose personnel and working to minimize the impact of such a decision. 4 Investigates obtained a copy of a letter sent this week to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and signed by all five members of the state’s delegation in Washington, D.C.

In it, New Mexico’s two senators and three congressional representatives say they oppose “any basing decision that would reduce CAFB’s total assets or personnel.” The delegation also acknowledged rumors that the Air Force plans a new Special Operations Wing to be based in Arizona.

The Pensacola News Journal reported earlier this week that Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Matt Gaetz, whose congressional district houses Hurlburt Field, were concerned that the Air Force’s basing decisions could “drastically impact” Hurlburt Field, with Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona apparently likely to gain in the shift.

Heyse did not confirm where any personnel from Cannon (or Hurlburt) might be moved.

During the military’s Base Realignment and Closure process in 2005, New Mexico political leaders went all-out in an effort to save Cannon Air Force Base from what they viewed as a likely closure. The placement of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon was a huge win for the state, as Republicans and Democrats banded together to keep the Air Force from shuttering the facility.

“This is not that,” said Heyse of the impact of the basing decisions.

U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján, U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández, and Clovis Mayor Mike Morris released the following statement in response to the decision:

“The importance of Cannon Air Force Base to Clovis, Curry County, and the State of New Mexico as a whole cannot be overstated. We are extremely disappointed in this decision by the Air Force’s leadership. And we are dedicated to preserving Cannon as a stronghold of Air Force Special Operations, ensuring its continued contributions to national security. We will continue our work to secure both a commitment and a concrete plan from the Air Force to increase its investment in Cannon. And we will keep doing all that we can to deliver for the service members, civilians, and families of Cannon AFB and the surrounding community.”