Senators commit to finding new mission for Cannon AFB

Staff and wire reports

Clovis Mayor David Lansford and Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega met Wednesday with New Mexico’s two U.S. senators to talk about ongoing efforts to find a new mission for Cannon Air Force Base.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission last month handed the eastern New Mexico base a reprieve of sorts. Instead of recommending to close it, commissioners directed the Pentagon to send Cannon’s F-16 fighter squadrons elsewhere and to look for another use for the base.

Cannon would be closed if a new mission can’t be found by Dec. 31, 2009.

Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told the mayors about their efforts to draft legislation that would direct the Pentagon to follow the commission’s recommendation and find an appropriate mission for the base.

“I assured the mayors that we are continuing to do everything within our powers to ensure that Cannon receives a new mission,” Domenici said. “I appreciate the commitment of the mayors to support our efforts.”

The BRAC Commission’s recommendation on Cannon was one of hundreds made as it reviewed the Pentagon’s plan to streamline the nation’s military bases. President Bush signed off the recommendations earlier this month, but congressional approval is still needed.

“Basically it was to hear from them about what their (senators) goals are, and thank them for (their) efforts,” said Clovis Mayor David Lansford.

However, he said, Cannon is not closer to a specific mission.

“At this point, patience is the key for everyone concerned about Cannon’s future. Right now, we have to celebrate the success of where we’re at now.”

Lansford said he will be in Washington until tommorrow. He said he went to the capital to discuss the Ute Water project and “took the opportunity to visit about Cannon.”