WASHINGTON — At President Trump’s campaign rally in Colorado Springs on Feb. 20, hundreds of people will be wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with the social media hashtag #usspaceCOm
The Thursday night rally at the Broadmoor World Arena is seen as a key opportunity to try to convince the president he should make Colorado Springs the permanent home of U.S. Space Command, said Reggie Ash, chief defense development officer of the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.
“We will have chants about U.S. Space Command and it’s going to be clear to the president how important this is to our population,” Ash told SpaceNews Feb. 19.
U.S. Space Command was established in August as the military’s 11th unified combatant command. It is temporarily headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs but its permanent location is still up for grabs.
The Air Force last summer said the list of candidate bases was narrowed down to Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, Buckley Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and Schriever Air Force Base, as well as Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal and California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. But by late 2019 the Air Force said it was reopening the basing selection process. Officials from other states like Florida and Texas have lobbied the Trump administration to have their bases considered as well.
Ash said the Colorado Chamber realized months ago that the basing decision had become a political one rather than one based on the merits of what each state has to offer. The organization this week launched a $350,000 national public relations campaign touting the benefits of keeping U.S. Space Command in Colorado.
A central argument to not move the command out of Colorado are the billions of dollars in investment in infrastructure and the large aerospace workforce that already resides in the state, Ash said.
“The president has said it’s his decision,” said Ash. “We’re going to make sure the president and his key advisers know Colorado provides the best return on investment for taxpayers.”
Colorado’s congressional delegation has been pushing the issue hard, but that only goes so far, Ash noted. Another piece of the PR campaign is to get the community involved, such as during the Trump rally, and also on social media with “digital ambassadors.”
The Rocky Mountain Vibes minor league baseball team is one of those ambassadors.
On its Twitter feed the team posted on Tuesday: “Our state has a proud military legacy with aerospace assets that make #Colorado the best choice for @US_SpaceCom. With Gen. Raymond & @PeteAFB stationed in COS, we are more than ready to host #usspaceCOm permanently #spacestartshere
The Air Force has not commented publicly on the issue. A spokeswoman told SpaceNews on Feb. 19 that the service does not know when a decision might be made.