Biden keeping SPACECOM in Colorado, nixes Alabama

By Tony Bertuca / July 31, 2023 at 4:15 PM

President Biden has decided to keep U.S. Space Command headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO, reversing an earlier Air Force decision made under President Trump that would have based it in Huntsville, AL, according to officials from the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.

The Associated Press first reported the news, which Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh confirmed for Inside Defense.

The decision is sure to ignite the passions of Alabama lawmakers, including House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL), who has been holding up Pentagon budgetary reprogrammings over the issue, and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who is blocking hundreds of Pentagon nominees over his opposition to the department’s travel and leave policies for servicemembers seeking abortion services.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Defense Department’s chief spokesman, released a statement after the news broke saying the decision was made after “a thorough and deliberate evaluation process.”

“From the start, DOD and the Department of the Air Force have worked diligently to ensure the basing decision resulted from an objective and deliberate process informed by data and analysis, in compliance with federal law and DOD policy,” he said.

Keeping SPACECOM headquarters in Colorado Springs, Ryder said, “ultimately ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period.”

“It will also enable the command to most effectively plan, execute and integrate military spacepower into multi-domain global operations in order to deter aggression and defend national interests,” he said.

Rogers released a statement pledging to investigate why the decision to locate the headquarters in his home state had been reversed.

“This fight is far from over,” he said. “The Biden administration’s shameful delay to finalize the permanent basing decision for U.S. Space Command warranted the opening of a Congressional investigation. I will continue this investigation to see if they intentionally misled the Armed Services Committee on their deliberate taxpayer-funded manipulation of the selection process. I will continue to hold the Biden administration accountable for their egregious political meddling in our national security.”

Rogers said previous investigations by the Defense Department inspector general and the Government Accountability Office found that Trump’s naming of Huntsville for the headquarters during his final days in office was lawful.

The IG, however, did recommend the Air Force create standard guidance for future basing decisions to make the process more transparent, while GAO found “significant shortfalls in the transparency and credibility” of the service’s search process and also recommended the creation of standard guidance to support basing decisions.

Trump himself also cast doubt on the process when he claimed in an August 2021 radio interview that he “singlehandedly” chose Alabama for political reasons.

Rogers, meanwhile, said Biden is choosing Colorado over Alabama because of “far-left politics, not national security.”

He has asked the Pentagon to preserve all documentation concerning the selection process.

Another Republican, however, released a statement praising the decision to keep SPACECOM in his home state.

“I commend the Biden Administration for prioritizing national security above political interests and keeping USSPACECOM in its rightful home at Peterson Air Force Base,” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) said in a statement.

“This decision aligns with the best military advice of countless senior military leaders who all agree that Peterson Space Force Base is the most viable option for USSPACECOM to reach full operational capability the fastest and is the best permanent home for its long-term operations,” he said. “Colorado Springs has always been the legitimate home of U.S. Space Command’s headquarters, and I am delighted that today’s decision validates this fact.”

SPACECOM is anticipated to bring in 1,400 troops and their families, along with civilian employees and contractors -- nearly 65% of which are currently in Colorado.

The command is on track to reach full operational capability later this year.