Official: Base should do well despite cuts

CNJ staff

Cannon Air Force Base should survive military budget cuts in better shape than many other bases across the country, says Curry County Commissioner Caleb Chandler, fresh from a three-day conference with Air Force top brass.

Chandler said Friday that he sees continued growth for Cannon because its mission fits in with the new Pentagon philosophy of “smaller but smarter.”

Chandler’s assessments are based on information learned at his first conference of the Air Force Chief of Staff’s civic leader program held Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 in Washington D.C. He was appointed to the program in December.

“After all the briefings,” Chandler said Friday, “I sure felt that we were blessed to have special operations at Cannon.”

He said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz made it clear during the sessions that the Pentagon is going to be taking big slices out of the military budget.

“But special operations,” said Chandler, “appears that it is going to fare much better than the rest of the Air Force.

“It looks like the ground forces, in the future, may be reduced. But I think they are going to be depending on the Air Force more than ever.”

Air Force public affairs said Donley and Schwartz outlined possible Air Force budget cuts to civic leaders from 32 states at the annual winter conference.

“Your Air Force is going to be smaller, but it will not be hollow,” Schwartz said. “We will emphasize readiness of the smaller force, and we will emphasize quality.”

Chandler said based on three days of briefings he believes Cannon is “going to see continued growth over the years.”

“The people at Cannon are some of the best trained folks that we have in the Air Force,” Chandler said. “Because of they’re high degree of training and the technical abilities they have with the people and equipment, I think cannon is going to do very well in the future.”