Colorado Senators Push Back On Location for Space Command HQ

Colorado Senators Push Back On Location for Space Command HQ

Colorado Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet met with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall today to push back on findings from two reports that the decision to site U.S. Space Command headquarters in Alabama was justified. They insist the Trump Administration’s “untested” decision process ignored national security and cost concerns.

Donald Trump chose Huntsville, AL as the location for U.S. Space Command days before the end of his presidency. It is temporarily headquartered at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, CO near other military space facilities. Critics claim his decision was a political gift to Alabama.

Two independent investigations of the decision released in the recent days do not support that assertion, however.

The DOD Inspector General concluded last week that the decision complied with law and policy. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced two days later it had completed its own investigation, but the report could not be publicly released due to classification concerns.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) nonetheless released a video in which he said the GAO report was “positive” and “we are pleased with its findings.”

Hickenlooper and Bennet are not. In a joint statement today they said they had met with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall urging him to review the two reports and “make a decision that prioritizes our nation’s national security and mission in space. Any fair and well-informed process will conclude that Space Command should remain permanently at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado.”

They contend the process “lacked transparency and ignored national security and cost concerns” including “the ability to reach Full Operational Capability as soon as possible.”

Frank Kendall, Secretary of the Air Force, testifying to the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, May 13, 2022. Screengrab.

Kendall testified to the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on May 13, two days after the DOD IG report was released, but before the GAO report was announced. Asked by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) about next steps if the decision to put it in Huntsville was upheld, Kendall said the Air Force wants to move forward as soon as possible. Next would be an environmental assessment required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a “look at some other considerations” before finalizing the decision. He estimated that would take about four months, followed by a public comment period. He said he was hopeful to get a final decision “in the next several months.”

Asked when Space Command would actually move in, Kendall demurred noting that a building had to be built and it wasn’t possible to know how long that would take.

U.S. Space Command is one of the 11 unified combatant commands that report to the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff, not the Air Force. However, the Air Force is the Combatant Command’s Support Agent (CCSA) and the process follows its procedures.

Trump reestablished U.S. Space Command in August 2019 after a 17-year hiatus. The original Space Command existed from 1985-2002, but was abolished when the unified commands were reorganized following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and U.S. national security priorities changed.

Gen. James Dickinson is the commander of U.S. Space Command. It is distinct from the U.S. Space Force, which is part of the Department of the Air Force.  Space Force and the other military services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard) “organize, train, and equip” personnel who are assigned to the unified combatant commands as needed.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.