WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández, and Clovis Mayor Mike Morris released the following statement in response to the U.S. Air Force’s announced decision to relocate seven MC-130J aircraft and around 300 to 350 service members, designated as the 6th Special Operations Squadron. The Squadron is scheduled for relocation from Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, N.M. to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ, in the upcoming fiscal years, the exact timeline of which is yet to be determined.
“The importance of Cannon Air Force Base to Clovis, Curry County, and the State of New Mexico as a whole cannot be overstated. We are extremely disappointed in this decision by the Air Force’s leadership. And we are dedicated to preserving Cannon as a stronghold of Air Force Special Operations, ensuring its continued contributions to national security. We will continue our work to secure both a commitment and a concrete plan from the Air Force to increase its investment in Cannon. And we will keep doing all that we can to deliver for the service members, civilians, and families of Cannon AFB and the surrounding community.”
Over the past several months, Senators Heinrich and Luján, Representative Leger Fernández, and Mayor Morris have engaged directly with Air Force leadership to advocate for its continued investment in Cannon AFB and defend against efforts to relocate assets and service members from Cannon AFB.
In June, Senators Luján and Heinrich and Representatives Leger Fernández, Melanie Stansbury, and Gabe Vasquez wrote to the Defense Health Agency to encourage improved medical support at Cannon AFB and review any barriers that limit medical services hiring or contracting.
Yesterday, the Senate passed the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act. It included provisions secured by Senators Heinrich and Luján to authorize $5 million for a new fire station at Cannon AFB. While not included in the bill, Senators Heinrich and Luján introduced an amendment that would have prohibited any funds from being used to relocate units from Cannon AFB to Davis-Monthan.
In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee, which Senator Heinrich is a member of, passed the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies FY24 Appropriations Bill. It included $2 million in funding Senators Heinrich and Luján secured to plan and design a fire station and emergency communications center at Cannon AFB.
In December 2022, Senators Heinrich and Luján secured $12 million in funding for Cannon AFB in the Omnibus Appropriations Agreement for FY23. This included $8 million for the Munitions Storage Area and $4 million for the Security Forces Squad Operations Building at Cannon AFB.
In December 2021, Senator Heinrich, then-Chairman of the Military Construction Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, secured $5 million in planning and design funding for a 192-bed dormitory at Cannon AFB.
According to an analysis by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Cannon AFB and Melrose Air Force Range (AFR), in FY 2020, contributed an estimated direct, indirect, and induced effect of 6,413 jobs, over $400 million in wages and salaries, and $2 billion in a total industrial output.