Redstone Arsenal moves its main gate farther from the interstate and expands inbound lanes to improve traffic. Now, the outbound lanes for the gate will be expanded to reduce traffic leaving the installation. (Courtesy photo)

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s inspector general will begin a probe into how the Air Force decided U.S. Space Command should move its headquarters from Colorado to Alabama.

 “We plan to begin the subject evaluation in February 2021,” Assistant Inspector General Randolph Stone, said in a memo Feb. 19.

The IG will “review the basis for selecting Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred permanent location of the U.S. Space Command headquarters,” said the memo.

Investigators will look at whether the Department of the Air Force: 

  • Complied with DoD and Air Force policies during the location selection process.
  • Used objective and relevant scoring factors to rank the six candidate locations.
  • Calculated the cost and other scoring factors accurately and consistently among the six candidate locations.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said in a statement Feb. 19 that he requested the IG investigation a month ago. Lamborn and the rest of the Colorado congressional delegation wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin asking for the Biden administration to review a basing decision they consider politically motivated. 

Lawmakers allege that the Air Force, after a months-long evaluation of six bases, was going to propose that U.S. Space Command remain at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. They contend that former Air Force Secretary Barrett was told by the Trump administration to recommend U.S. Space Command be relocated to Alabama as a gift to the former president’s political allies. Barrett announced the decision Jan. 13, just one week before stepping down. 

“We are glad to hear that the Department of Defense inspector general will be investigating the Trump administration’s hastily announced basing decision to move U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama,” Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D) and John Hickenlooper (D) said in a joint statement. “Moving Space Command will disrupt the mission while risking our national security and economic vitality. Politics have no role to play in our national security.”

U.S. Space Command was established in August 2019 as the military’s 11th unified combatant command. The future headquarters will have approximately 1,400 military and civilian personnel.

Redstone Arsenal was one of six finalists the Air Force announced in November. Besides Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, the other candidates were Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Patrick Air Force Base, Florida; Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; and Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...