Team arrives at CAFB

Freeedom Newspapers

An eight-member mission team from the Air Force arrived Tuesday at Cannon Air Force Base to begin evaluating possible missions for the base.

Randy Harris of the base support group Committee of Fifty said the Air Force team spent the day collecting data, which will help determine Cannon’s future. Community leaders have said the Air Force team is here to assess the base’s infrastructure.

Matt Letourneau, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said the mission team is tasked with evaluating Cannon’s facilities and will not make decisions regarding future missions.

Capt. Andre Kok of Cannon Public Affairs said plans to make an Air Force spokesman available for comment Tuesday fell through. Kok declined comment on Tuesday’s visit.

Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., have been pressing the Pentagon to find a mission for Cannon since the federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission placed it in “enclave” status in the summer. The base will close in 2010 unless a new mission is found before then.
Domenici and Bingaman plan to attend a Thursday meeting with community leaders and the mission team at Clovis Community College.

The mission team is scheduled to be in town until Friday.
Domenici has said the visit is a sure sign the Pentagon is taking seriously the congressional delegation’s push for a new mission.

“There is no question that the base’s physical and air space assets, along with strong community support, can be put to use by the Defense Department,” he said. “I believe this evaluation team will learn that firsthand.”

Earlier this month, Congress agreed to language that ensures construction projects continue at Cannon as the Pentagon seeks a new mission.

Without the language that addressed Cannon’s status, funding would not have been obligated for bases and programs closed or realigned during this year’s BRAC process.