State group to woo Air Force

By Sharna Johnson

Gov. Bill Richardson has created a task force to sell New Mexico as a future home for a new U.S. Air Force Cyberspace Command.

Richardson on Wednesday formed a task force of state and community leaders and military and cyberspace experts to promote New Mexico. The task force will make the state’s case to the Department of Defense.

The Air Force is to evaluate locations between now and next fall.

According to a press release from Richardson’s office, the Air Force added cyberspace defense into its mission in 2005. Activities could include defending computer networks, using communications and global positioning system satellites and conducting Internet financial transactions.

Allan Oliver, spokesman for Richardson said the task force will make recommendations for a command location. Cannon Air Force Base will be among New Mexico military installations considered, he said.

The state will be competing against others to woo the Air Force, he said. “There are going to be a number of other states making this case. We think our case is going to be the best,” Oliver said.

Clovis’ Randy Harris is one of 15 members appointed to serve on the task force.

A member of the New Mexico Military Base Planning Commission and a long-time Cannon Air Force Base advocate, Harris said the first goal of the task force will be to determine what the Air Force’ s needs are to create a Cyberspace Command. Once those needs and plans are understood, Harris said the task force will work to show the Air Force how New Mexico can best fulfill them.

“New Mexico has such tremendous advantages and capabilities to support an Air Force Cyberspace Command,” he said.

Harris cited said the state’s military bases, two national laboratories and citizen support as reasons why New Mexico would be a perfect home for the command.

The task force, chaired by Economic Development Department Secretary-designate Fred Mondragon, is to produce a final report by May 31.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.