WASHINGTON — President Biden finally settled the drawn-out fight over the location of U.S. Space Command headquarters: It’s staying in Colorado Springs, and not moving to Huntsville, Alabama.
Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder in a statement July 31 said Biden made the decision after considering the views of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other senior military officials.
“Following a thorough and deliberate evaluation process, and after consultation with Secretary Austin and weighing the input of senior military leaders, President Biden notified the Department of Defense that he has selected Colorado Springs as the permanent location of the U.S. Space Command headquarters,” Ryder said.
“Secretary Austin, Secretary of the Air Force Kendall, and U.S. Space Command commander Gen. James Dickinson all support the President’s decision,” Ryder noted.
This announcement caps more than two years of bitter wrangling between congressional delegations.
It all started in January 2021 when the Department of the Air Force in the final days of the Trump presidency recommended that Space Command, currently located at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, move to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
Trump’s recommendation resulted in two separate independent reviews, and back-and-forth arguments between congressional representatives from both states.
Space Command is responsible for providing satellite-based services to the U.S. military and for protecting those assets from foreign threats. It was activated in August 2019 to oversee military operations in the space domain.
Ryder said DoD supported keeping the command in Colorado to avoid disruptions that would undermine “readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period.”
Fighting not over
Colorado lawmakers on Monday hailed Biden’s decision. For more than two years they alleged that the Trump administration improperly influenced the decision and that the Air Force’s basing process did not take into account senior military officials’ concerns that the relocation would add years to Space Command efforts to reach full operational capability as soon as possible.
“Today’s decision restores integrity to the Pentagon’s basing process and sends a strong message that national security and the readiness of our Armed Forces drive our military decisions,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said in a statement.
Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) said that “after two investigations and rigorous review by the Department of Defense, the administration has made the decision that’s in our country’s best interest.”
“I commend the Biden administration for prioritizing national security above political interests,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.). “This decision aligns with the best military advice of countless senior military leaders.”
Alabama lawmakers are vowing to push back.
“This fight is far from over,” said. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee.
“Huntsville, Alabama was chosen to be the headquarters of U.S. Space Command because it was the strongest location and investigations by the DoD IG and GAO have upheld this decision,” said Rogers. “Yet, the Biden administration decided to make Colorado Springs, Colorado, which came in fifth in the selection phase, the location of the headquarters for U.S. Space Command.”
“I will continue to hold the Biden administration accountable for their egregious political meddling in our national security,” Rogers added.