ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Upon his arrival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) hand delivered a letter to President Joe Biden urging his Administration to prioritize additional investments and forward-looking missions at Cannon Air Force Base (CAFB) in Clovis, N.M. The letter was signed by Senator Heinrich, Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.). The letter comes after the U.S. Air Force announced its decision to relocate seven MC-130J aircraft and around 300 to 350 service members to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz. in the upcoming fiscal years.
“We are dedicated to maintaining and strengthening the current investment at CAFB and want to work with your Administration to find additional investments and forward-looking missions that can benefit CAFB and the U.S. Air Force Special Operations,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers continued, “The Air Force and the nation would greatly benefit from continuing to invest in this unmatched airspace and existing infrastructure. We are also extremely proud of the strong community support for CAFB. The Eastern New Mexico community has the highest level of understanding and appreciation for the base’s mission and the service members stationed there. Along with our state and local partners, we steadfastly support CAFB and the 27th SOW, and stand ready to find additional forward-looking missions that enhance CAFB.”
The letter can be found here and below.
Dear President Biden,
We write to express our strong support for Cannon Air Force Base (CAFB). We are dedicated to maintaining and strengthening the current investment at CAFB and want to work with your Administration to find additional investments and forward-looking missions that can benefit CAFB and the U.S. Air Force Special Operations. We are extremely concerned by the decision of the Air Force’s leadership to relocate seven MC-130J aircraft and approximately 300 to 350 service members from CAFB to Davis-Monthan. We are equally committed to preserving CAFB as a stronghold of Air Force Special Operations, ensuring its continued contributions to national security.
The importance of CAFB to Clovis, Curry County, and the State of New Mexico as a whole cannot be overstated. According to an analysis by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, CAFB 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.
The 27th Special Operations Wing (27th SOW) is excelling in its vital national security mission and CAFB is well positioned to expand its mission with your Administration’s increased investment and support. U.S. taxpayers and New Mexicans have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build the infrastructure and unique capabilities of CAFB, making it the premier Air Force Special Operations installation in the country. We are proud to have championed initiatives to grow and support the role of the base and we look forward to working with you to continue CAFB’s important mission and maintain its important role for US military operations worldwide.
CAFB is located in an area with access to clear airspace and a varied geography, which continues to provide opportunities for some of the most realistic training and testing in the nation. The Air Force and the nation would greatly benefit from continuing to invest in this unmatched airspace and existing infrastructure. We are also extremely proud of the strong community support for CAFB. The Eastern New Mexico community has the highest level of understanding and appreciation for the base’s mission and the service members stationed there.
Along with our state and local partners, we steadfastly support CAFB and the 27th SOW, and stand ready to find additional forward-looking missions that enhance CAFB.
Thank you for your consideration and continued support of Cannon Air Force Base, the Airmen and their families, and the surrounding community.
Over the past several months, Senators Heinrich and Luján, Representative Leger Fernández, and Clovis Mayor Mike 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.
Last month, 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 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.