Delegates request funds for Cannon

Freedom Newspapers

New Mexico congressional delegates Thursday called upon Senate and House Appropriations Committee leaders to fund construction projects for Cannon Air Force Base’s new Air Force Special Operations Command mission, according to a delegation press release.

The delegation requested that $72.5 million be provided in the fiscal year 2007 Supplemental Appropriations bill, which will contain funding for emergency measures and military operations overseas.

The House and Senate are expected to consider the bill later this month.

The $72.5 million would be used to construct a:

• Fuel cell hanger and C-130 corrosion hanger ($31.5 million);

• CV-22 simulator facility ( $7.5 million);

• Unmanned Aerial Vehicle squadron operations/ground control station ($17.5 million);

• MC-130 squadron operations facility ($12 million); and,

• Military construction planning and design ($4 million).

All projects have been identified by the Department of Defense as being requirements for the transformation of Cannon to a Special Operations base, the release reads.

AFSOC is slated to assume ownership of Cannon in October.

“Special Operations forces are at the very core of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Sen. Pete Domenici, R.-N.M., who is a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “Since they are playing such a key role in the global war on terror, we must make sure that their equipment and training is top notch.”

Cannon advocate and Clovis resident Chad Lydick said the current funding shortage wasn’t alarming. He said securing funding for any project requires aggressive lobbying from delegates, and big projects are rarely funded in a single fiscal year.

“Everybody is still confident we can get the money we will need. It may slip a little bit as far as what fiscal year (needed money is retrieved).

“That doesn’t mean we are in bad shape,” Lydick said.
Lydick said he long ago anticipated AFSOC’s wish list might not be fulfilled until 2011.

The fiscal year 2008 Defense Department Budget Request contains a $9.2 million military construction recommendation for two Cannon projects:

• $7.5 million for an MC-130 Flight Simulator facility;

• and $1.7 million to renovate Hangar 109 to accommodate C-130 aircraft.

The delegation request was made to the chairman and ranking members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, as well as the chairman and ranking members of the Senate and House Defense Appropriations subcommittees and military construction subcommittees.

During questioning by Domenici at an appropriations hearing Wednesday, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said that $200 million has been programmed through the Future Defense Plan for Cannon. Yet, according to the delegation, Gordon was surprised there is $72 million in unfunded AFSOC requirements for FY2008.