Cannon AFB was originally set up in the aftermath of World War II as a training base for fighter aircraft. This mission remained relatively unchanged until 2005 when the base was placed on the BRAC list. Instead of closing the base, however, Congress decided to leave the base open and use it as the new western base for AFSOC.
While AFSOC does not issue complete lists of the aircraft at this base, it is the home to AC-130 gunships, Ospreys, and a variety of light aircraft. All units on the base are part of the AFSOC command.
Most airmen on the base choose to live in the cities of Clovis and Portales. Together these two areas have a population of approximately 50,000. There is very little nightlife in the town, and most airmen will travel the 180 miles roundtrip to Amarillo or Lubbock in order to shop for basic goods and/or go to a nightclub.
There is one private school in the area, and the public schools are some of the lowest rated schools in the state. All but two of the schools in the area are Title I. Only four of the elementary schools made AYP last year. The middle schools and high school have never made AYP. The state now uses an A to F grading system, and none of the middle or high schools have ranked over a “C”.
While Clovis has recently expanded their hospital, access to specialists is very limited. The health clinic on base is one the lowest rated in the Air Force, and many airmen report that it is a struggle to get transferred to an off-base provider. To see a specialist, it is often necessary to make the 180 mile round trip to Lubbock, TX.
The area has had a shortage of housing options for the past several years, but recent building has made it easier to find a rental. Nonetheless, rental prices are very high and many airmen choose to live on base. Currently, the base is in the process of renovating the on-base housing, and much of the off-base housing has been transferred to a private management company. Airmen are encouraged to buy a house. Cannon AFB is one of two bases that is still part of the Air Force Homestead Program.
While very few people are excited about an assignment to Cannon AFB, there are ways to make it pleasant. The community is very supportive of the military. Because there is not a lot of retail in the area, most people frequently make trips to Lubbock and Amarillo. While there, it is possible to see museums, concerts, and visit restaurants.