Biden chooses to keep Space Command headquarters at Peterson SFB in Colorado
Stars and Stripes July 31, 2023
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has decided to keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado, overturning a decision by former President Donald Trump to move it to Alabama, the Pentagon announced Monday.
“Following a thorough and deliberate evaluation process, and after consultation with [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] 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,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesman.
Trump had decided in the final days of his presidency to move Space Command headquarters from Peterson Space Force Base, Colo., to Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
Army Gen. James Dickinson, who leads SPACECOM, had reportedly lobbied Biden to keep the command at Peterson, which is in Colorado Springs, a city in central Colorado about 55 miles southeast of Denver. The Air Force Academy is also located in the same area.
“Locating [the] headquarters [of] U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs ultimately ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period,” Ryder said. “It will also enable the command to most effectively plan, execute and integrate military space power into multi-domain global operations in order to deter aggression and defend national interests.”
Space Command has been based in Colorado Springs since its formation in 2019 and many Air Force and Space Force leaders favored keeping it there for various logistical reasons. They have argued that moving the base would hinder progress that’s been made at the command, and that building a new headquarters would take years. But Trump had decided SPACECOM should be in Huntsville, Ala. — a move that triggered some political criticism and a series of reviews. Both options were presented to Biden.
The congressional delegations of Alabama and Colorado have argued for their home states as the best location for Space Command, partly due to economic benefits and an influx of well-paying jobs that come with the base.
“For two and a half years we’ve known any objective analysis of this basing decision would reach the same conclusion we did, that Peterson Space Force Base is the best home for Space Command,” Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., said Monday. “We’re grateful to the service members and civilians who serve at Space Command, keeping us safe at the cutting edge of this new frontier.”
“I'm very happy to see that our efforts were heard and U.S. Space Command will remain in Colorado Springs,” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., said. “Colorado is the one and only home the Space Command has ever known and it will remain that way!”
But Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., said Redstone Arsenal had been chosen on merit and Huntsville had finished as the first choice in the Air Force’s evaluation and selection phases for Space Command’s headquarters.
“President Biden has irresponsibly decided to yank a military decision out of the Air Force’s hands in the name of partisan politics,” she said.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., said at a Senate hearing last week that he was frustrated with the lack of a decision on where to base Space Command.
“It’s been three years, and we do not have a permanent home yet for Space Command, and it’s a shame that we have gotten into politics,” he said Wednesday.
Tuberville has been at odds with the Pentagon since February over a military policy that reimburses service members if they must travel to another state to receive reproductive health care, including abortions. To protest, Tuberville has been blocking hundreds of military promotions, including the nomination of Air Force Gen. Charles Brown as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“It is clear to anyone who has looked at the facts: Huntsville, Ala., is the best place for U.S. Space Command headquarters,” Rep. Dale Strong, R-Ala., whose district includes Huntsville, said after the decision was announced Monday. “Repeated investigations and objective reviews have proven that to be the case.”
A comprehensive review by the Government Accountability Office gave Alabama a higher score than Colorado. But proponents of leaving it in Colorado have also argued dozens of military space missions and three Space Force bases are also located in Colorado.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall had a slight preference for Alabama, though Dickinson favored Colorado, according to The Associated Press. The Pentagon said Monday that both, however, support Biden’s choice.
“From the start, [the Pentagon] and the Department of the Air Force have worked diligently to ensure the basing decision resulted from an objective and deliberate process informed by data and analysis, in compliance with federal law and [military] policy,” Ryder said. “Secretary Austin, Secretary of the Air Force Kendall and U.S. Space Command commander Gen. Dickinson all support the president’s decision.”