Lawmakers press Air Force for final decision on U.S. Space Command
WASHINGTON — Colorado’s senators in a Sept. 27 to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall argue that a final basing decision on U.S. Space Command needs to be made as soon as possible in light of the Ukraine conflict and China’s expansion in the Pacific
The letter marks yet another push by Colorado lawmakers to reverse the Department of the Air Force’s January 2021 recommendation that Space Command, currently located at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, move to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
“A final decision must be based on the imperative to face rapidly evolving threats in space,” says the letter signed by Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and John Hickenlooper (D).
U.S. Space Command is responsible for providing satellite-based services to the U.S. military and for protecting those assets from foreign threats.
The basing decision has been reviewed by the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office. Neither review found anything improper with the basing process but the IG did ask the Secretary of Defense to look into concerns expressed by senior military officials that relocating Space Command would not allow it to reach “full operational capability,” or FOC, as quickly as if it stayed at Peterson.
“The SecDef agreed and stated that he would direct the Secretary of the Air Force to conduct a review of the concerns regarding the USSPACECOM FOC, and to take such steps as the SECAF deems appropriate,” the IG said in its report.
Gen. James Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command, said last month that he expected the Department of the Air Force to issue a decision in the near future.
Dickinson said Space Command, established in August 2019, is trying to get to FOC but needs a basing decision to be finalized so it can move forward. FOC requires the headquarters to be fully staffed and to have a permanent location.
Bennet and Hickenlooper point out that the DoD IG and GAO reports said senior military leaders proposed the renovation of Building 1 at Peterson Space Force Base in order to achieve FOC faster and at less cost than a brand-new building.
“We request a briefing on your review prior to any final decision to understand how the Air Force has accounted for critical national security and cost implications,” the senators wrote.