Cannon’s Construction Needs Not Urgent

While the buildup of Cannon AFB, N.M., as a hub for Air Force special operations forces is one of US Special Operations Command’s large expansion initiatives over the next few years, military construction at the base is not a pressing issue and there is no perceived need to rush any of the planned infrastructure projects, the head of SOCOM told a House panel April 16. “This is a phased growth,” Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, SOCOM commander, told members of a House Appropriations subcommittee. “It was largely not quite a turnkey operation, but it was an up and running base,” he said of Cannon’s transition. Accordingly, Olson continued, “the Milcon demands, although significant,” are not “urgent.” Air Force Special Operations Command is moving some aircraft, personnel, and infrastructure from Hurlburt Field, Fla., to Cannon. While a good amount of construction will be needed to turn the former F-16 base into a home for special operators with their unique aircraft, the base already features maintenance facilities and has airmen who stayed behind for the transition, and housing and dining facilities already up and running, Olson said. In Fiscal 2009, AFSOC asks for funds to construct a new C-130 hangar at Cannon. The admiral said he anticipates more projects at Cannon beyond 2009, but that, for now, the construction program is at the right level. AFSOC can grow into Cannon at the rate its assets are planned to arrive. The base’s CV-22 Osprey unit, for example, stands up in Fiscal 2010. Olson’s comments echoed the sentiment of 27th Special Operations Wing officials during a visit by Air Force Magazine earlier this year. These officials said at the time the MILCON program will increase markedly from Fiscal 2011. (For more on Cannon’s transition, read Special Operators Head West in the March issue of Air Force Magazine.)