NewsNational/World News


Biden has decided to keep Space Command in Colorado, rejecting move to Alabama

Space Command.jpg
Posted at 1:50 PM, Jul 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-01 09:59:02-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — President Joe Biden has decided to keep U.S. Space Command headquarters in Colorado, overturning a last-ditch decision by the Trump administration to move it to Alabama and ending months of politically fueled debate, according to senior U.S. officials.

The officials said Biden was convinced by the head of Space Command, Gen. James Dickinson, who argued that moving his headquarters now would jeopardize military readiness. Dickinson's view, however, was in contrast to Air Force leadership, who studied the issue at length and determined that relocating to Huntsville, Alabama, was the right move.

Government Accountability Office releases full Space Command Relocation Report

Government Accountability Office releases full report on U.S. Space Command relocation process

The initial report was followed up by a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which reviewed the January 2021 report and found the early decision lacking in transparency and credibility.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision ahead of the announcement.

The president, they said, believes that keeping the command in Colorado Springs would avoid a disruption in readiness that the move would cause, particularly as the U.S. races to compete with China in space. And they said Biden firmly believes that maintaining stability will help the military be better able to respond in space over the next decade.

Biden's decision is sure to enrage Alabama lawmakers and fuel accusations that abortion politics played a role in the choice. The location debate has become entangled in the ongoing battle between Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville and the Defense Department over the move to provide travel for troops seeking reproductive health care. Tuberville opposed the policy is blocking hundreds of military promotions in protest.

Formally created in August 2019, the command was temporarily based in Colorado, and Air Force and Space Force leaders initially recommended it stay there. In the final days of his presidency, Donald Trump decided it should be based in Huntsville.

Former Mayor John Suthers spoke with Donald Trump on this matter both times he was in Colorado Springs, going as far as writing a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall expressing his concerns that the decision was a political one.

The change triggered a number of reviews.

Proponents of keeping the command in Colorado have argued that moving it to Huntsville and creating a new headquarters would set back its progress at a time it needs to move quickly to be positioned to match China’s military space rise. Colorado Springs is also home to the Air Force Academy, which now graduates Space Force guardians, and more than 24 military space missions, including three Space Force bases.

Huntsville, however, scored higher than Colorado Springs in a Government Accountability Office assessment of potential locations and has long been a home to some of the earliest missiles used in the nation’s space programs, including the Saturn V rocket. It is home to the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command.

According to officials, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, who ordered his own review of the matter, leaned toward Huntsville, while Dickinson staunchly favored staying put. The officials said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin presented both options to Biden.

In a press conference Monday, former Mayor John Suthers who has been part of the process for years credited the Biden administration in its efforts to see the decision to move U.S. Space Command to Alabama a political one.

"The ultimate decision was the Air Force and Biden administration, and I give incredible credit to the Biden administration who early on, in the last year or so, focused on the fact that this had been a political decision, should not be a political decision. It should be based on what's in the national security interest and the interest of the American taxpayer," said Former Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.

Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade said, "Today's announcement is an affirmation of what we already know, friends. Colorado Springs is the home of space. Our city is proud to be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command, and we are committed to it's long-term success."

The official statement from U.S. Space Command is below.

The Associated Press and Aidan Hulting with News5 contributed to this report.
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