AFSOC leader coming to base

CNJ staff

Air Force Special Operations Command will assume ownership of Cannon Air Force Base during a ceremony Oct. 1 at the base.

The 27th Fighter Wing will be designated the 27th Special Operations Wing during the event.

The unit designation was selected through a process that started in the AFSOC historian’s office.

“After coordinating with Air Combat Command and determining they were not planning to use the 27th Fighter Wing designation, we decided to formally request it,” said Herb Mason, the AFSOC command historian.

The 27th’s impressive lineage, and its history while at Cannon Air Force Base, made it an obvious choice for a new special operations wing, Mason said. “It’s a well-known number and it’s held a variety of missions since 1940. Now we will add our own unique mission and aircraft to its heritage.”

Col. Scott West, 27th Fighter Wing commander, will relinquish command to Col. Timothy Leahy. West has served as commander at Cannon since March 2006. Leahy previously served as vice-commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft, including the MC-130W Combat Spear, the tiltrotor CV-22 Osprey and the AC-130 gunship, will be on display, according to a Cannon public affairs news release,

The number of aircraft, manned and unmanned, to be stationed at Cannon is expected to be around 100. The first aircraft to move to the base will be the 73rd Special Operations Squadron’s MC-130W Combat Spear.

AFSOC Commander Gen. Michael Wooley and AFSOC Vice-commander Donald C. Wurster plan to attend the ceremony, according to AFSOC spokesperson Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery.

Emery said the military ceremony is not open to the public.

“This is an historical time for Air Force special operations,” Wooley said. “We’re experiencing an unprecedented growth in the history of this command, increasing in numbers of airmen and aircraft.”

AFSOC officials said the build-up of the new Cannon wing will take approximately three years to complete. The final active-duty population is expected to be between 4,400 and 5,600

Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs contributed to this story.