So here we are, 14 days into the rollercoaster ride of emotions tied to Cannon Air Force Base being targeted by the Defense Department and the Air Force to close. Now we’re exactly four weeks away from arguing our case against that decision before the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
Let’s take stock for a few moments and assess where we are. What does the landscape look like since we first learned on May 13 the base was on the closure list and the shockwave rippled across the region?
l Foremost, the looks of shock and disbelief and dismay and anger (perhaps panic for some) on our faces are mostly replaced by a fierce determination to overturn the BRAC decision. Community support efforts are going full bore in Clovis and Portales and leaders from both communities are working rapidly to develop plans and strategies to fight the decision.
l Consultants, data evaluators, number crunchers and lobbyists are each doing their piece of the groundwork. Speed, focus and determination has led to straightforward plans and strategies whose missions are simple: Figure how the DoD’s data led to the closure decision and to showing the Commission how flawed that process was.
l We’re doing these steps weeks ahead of where New Mexico supporters of Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque were when that base was first put on the BRAC list a decade ago.
l We are doing this good work despite the muck of military and political intrigue in the highest levels of American leadership. We mean no affront to New Mexico’s federal and state officials who claimed a week ago that politics were not involved in the BRAC process. We won’t swallow that baited hook. Who wants what to happen and where, and with what equipment, is as political a game as anyone can play in Washington, D.C.
Want proof of politics? Why are Defense Department officials still stonewalling communities affected by BRAC and not providing some of the data behind its decisions? Why, in the name of that old safety blanket our top leaders and bureaucrats often use to deny access: national security.
Despite such roadblocks, we cannot slow down now. In four short weeks, Operation Keep Cannon’s leaders will have their only chance to present data and arguments to tell the BRAC commissioners why the military’s analysis is flawed, particularly on the base’s significant military value.
It is good to read and hear the debate about whether to put a Plan B together in case we can’t get off the list. Looking into how to move our communities forward if the closure isn’t overturned makes sense. Some local and state officials are doing just that. So, if Plan A doesn’t happen, we’ll be ready to move onto the next stage: community redevelopment.
But Plan B must not get equal time or effort yet. Plan A — getting off the BRAC list by lining up five votes to take Cannon off the list — must be our passion and commitment to our futures.