Freedom New Mexico: Kevin Wilson Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, speaks Friday during the ceremony transferring the 16th Special Operations Squadron from Hurlburt Air Field in Florida to Cannon Air Force Base.
By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
The “game changers” officially belong to Cannon Air Force Base.
Flanked by two of the AC-130H Spectre gunships it flies and maintains, the 16th Special Operations Squadron transferred its flag Friday from Hurlburt Air Field in Florida to Cannon.
“The arrival of Spectre is a game-changer,” said Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster, commander of AFSOC. “If you’re a good guy, you will win. If you are a bad guy, you will perish. It’s as simple as that.”
Prior to the transfer, crews of the 16th at Cannon were operating as a detachment unit while the official squadron was stationed at Hurlburt.
Now, it is Hurlburt with the detachment unit.
“It’s a important step for (Air Force Special Operations Command),” said Lt. Col. Sean Farrell, commander of the squadron. “As we grow our continental base and we build the capabilities of this wing to match the capabilities of our wing in Florida. “We deliver an important element to the AFSOC mission.”
That element includes close air support, armed reconnaissance, interdiction, night search and rescue, and airborne command and control.
The AC-130H Spectre gunship is a modified Lockheed airplane configured with side-firing weapons, including a 105-millimeter Howitzer and a 40-millimeter Bofors cannon.
Cannon is scheduled to received six more of the gunships from Hurlburt over the next few months.
The next two gunships are expected to come in the final two weeks of July, Farrell said, and the remaining four will be brought in one or two at a time through the summer and early fall.
The squadron, first operational in 1968 in Thailand, had been at Hurlburt since December 1975.
“The aircraft behind us and the crews that have flown them, they are history,” Cannon Commander Col. Stephen Clark said. “There is no quit, there is no fail; there is only mission success.”
More than 500 personnel associated with the squadron will be arriving at Cannon over the summer, the base’s public affairs office said.
“Cannon’s got a long history of flying F-16s, F-111s, F-100s,” said Farrell, who will relinquish command to Lt. Col. Jason Miller on July 30. “All of those air crews and personnel were special to the Air Force; they had a niche. We just happen to bring a new niche to Cannon, which is providing specialized air support to fighting forces.