When the congressional delegation announced last week Air Force Special Operations Command had selected Cannon as the home for expansion, one of the factors named for the choice was the similarity in terrain between eastern New Mexico and the Middle East, specifically Iraq and Afghanistan.
Special Ops will begin the transition to the area immediately and will assume command of Cannon Oct. 1, 2007, officials said.
New Mexico is host to a diverse range of terrain from large mountain ranges in the Rocky Mountains to wide desert ranges and heavily wooded areas, according to Wikipedia online encyclopedia. Those characteristics are shared with Iraq and Afghanistan, countries similarly diverse, reported in Wikipedia.
Eastern New Mexico, Iraq and Afghanistan wide-open spaces and drastic degrees of temperatures exist. From cool, moist mountain climates to hot, flat desert plains.
Special forces troops are looking forward to utilizing the natural attributes of Clovis and New Mexico, according to Maj. Erin Dick of the AFSOC public affairs. Lack of encroachment, clear, sunny skies and a large bombing range are great boons to their training, she said.
Melrose Bombing Range is a 66,000-acre training range located 25 miles west of Cannon.
“The range (Melrose) out there is fantastic. The range here is very busy and (we) have to share with our Department of Defense partners and neighbors. (Melrose) range will allow us more capability. The weather there is spectacular and will be very conducive to training,” she said.
Supporting the war on terror, currently centered in the Middle East is an obvious priority, Dick said.
“What’s so great about (Melrose) range is it does allow us to train in one location and get the realistic training our airmen need for the global war on terror,” she said.
— Sharna Johnson, CNJ staff writer