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The gate at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

The gate at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. (

An Air Force decision to locate U.S. Space Command headquarters in Alabama, instead of keeping it at its temporary home in Colorado, followed all the necessary procedures, according to a report released Tuesday by the Defense Department inspector general.

However, the inspectors could not verify three of the 21 criteria used in the process, so the service agreed to re-analyze the issues of child care, affordability of housing and access to military and veteran support services before finalizing its decision to build its Space Command headquarters at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

Members of Congress from Colorado asked for the decision to be reviewed for political bias after it was announced in January 2021 that the command would move to Alabama from its temporary headquarters at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, which is also home to other space-related military agencies North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, and U.S. Northern Command.

Space Command, which operated from 1985 to 2002, was reestablished in 2019 just months before Space Force, the newest military service branch, was founded. Space Command is a joint, combatant command that oversees the military’s various space-based infrastructure and operations.

“We found that the process Air Force officials used to select Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred permanent location for the U.S. Space Command headquarters complied with law and policy and was reasonable in identifying Huntsville as the preferred permanent location,” the report states.

State and federal lawmakers in Alabama praised the report. When the members of Space Command arrive in Alabama “they’ll be living and working in the most military-friendly state in the nation,” said Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said in a statement Wednesday that the report reflects “the hard work and legislative accomplishments of the Alabama Military Stability Commission,” of which he is the chairman. The commission is tasked with retaining and expanding the federal military footprint in the state.

“Despite baseless protests from competing states, the DOD inspector general report determined that the criteria used to judge the best site for headquartering Space Command was sound and the selection of Huntsville over other alternatives was just,” according to the statement from Ainsworth’s office.

In Colorado, lawmakers were disappointed by the findings.

“Our position remains that the [Space Command] basing process was untested, lacked transparency, and neglected critical national security and cost considerations,” according to a statement from Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both Democrats from Colorado.

The two said they are reviewing the findings of the report and will share more about it in the coming days.

A second report on the decision is expected soon from the Government Accountability Office. Bennet, Hickenlooper and Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said in April that they were briefed on the GAO’s report but not to comment on what they were told.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.
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