Investigations of U.S. Space Command’s basing decision to continue into 2022
WASHINGTON — The Government Accountability Office and the Defense Department’s inspector general are still months away from completing their investigations of the decision to relocate U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama.
“We have been told by the department that results are expected sometime in spring of 2022,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said Oct. 18 during a call with reporters along with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
“So we continue to push for that to be expedited and to be moved faster,” Crow said.
Bennet and Crow said they just returned from a two-day tour of military installations in Colorado as they continue to fight the relocation decision made by former President Trump. Colorado lawmakers argue the process was tainted by politics and did not follow the standard military basing process.
Both the GAO and the DoD IG are “analyzing whether the decision was made in an appropriate nonpolitical manner,” Bennet said.
The Colorado delegation most recently asked Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to suspend any actions on the relocation until the investigations are completed. Bennet said Kendall has not responded to the most recent letter lawmakers sent him Sept. 30.
Crow said that while the president has the power to relocate a military base, Trump abused that power for political gain.
For now, lawmakers are trying to stop the relocation by denying funding.
“It’s Congress’s role is to decide how taxpayer money is spent and how we allocate that money within the Department of Defense, and you obviously can’t make those decisions and conduct a base move or build out a new command for that matter without the funding,” said Crow. “So that’s our primary mechanism of conducting that level of oversight.”
The Department of the Defense has a long-standing process for selecting the location of military installations and U.S. Space Command’s basing should have followed that process, he said, “so it’s done in the best interest of our national security and it’s not a political decision made by any one or a handful of elected officials.”
“That’s the way it has been in the past and that that’s the way it should be in the future,” said Crow. “The Air Force was supposed to follow a process. There are many indications that then President Trump overrode that process and put his thumb on the scale in favor of one location.”
The GAO and IG are working to “determine whether or not that occurred and if it did, of course we need to revisit that process and go through it the right way,” he said. U.S. Space Command is currently headquartered at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs. If the relocation goes forward as recommended by the Trump administration, the command would move by 2026.
Crow said if the standard military basing process had been followed, Space Command would be staying in Colorado.
During their recent tour of military installations, Bennet and Crow spoke with officials from U.S. Space Command, U.S. Space Force, Missile Defense Agency and others about the issue, and said their response was that the military would prefer to stay out of the political fray.
“Certainly the visit underscored for us there’s a level of professionalism of these individuals and that they’re not going to weigh in,” Crow said.
Leaders from these organizations did tell lawmakers that the most important factor in a relocation is human capital.
“You can invest in technology, you can invest in buildings, all day long, but unless you have the right people in place, unless you have the talent to ensure the success of admission, it’s not going to work,” said Crow.
Colorado lawmakers have repeatedly made the case that moving Space Command to Alabama would be counterproductive as most of Space Command’s workforce and industrial base reside in Colorado.