Republicans Demand Answers on ‘Politically Motivated’ Delay Picking Space Command HQ

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
May 26, 2023Politics
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Republicans Demand Answers on ‘Politically Motivated’ Delay Picking Space Command HQ
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, gestures during committee's hearing on "Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan" in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on Sept. 29, 2021. (Rod Lamkey/Pool via Reuters)

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Al.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is demanding answers from the Pentagon over delays in selecting the new headquarters for the U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM).

The location of the SPACECOM headquarters has been a point of contention in recent years. The SPACECOM headquarters are currently located at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. However, on January 13, 2021, the Space Force announced the headquarters would be relocated to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

The decision to relocate SPACECOM to Huntsville came in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidential term. The pause on the relocation process has persisted under President Joe Biden’s administration.

The delay in relocating SPACECOM to Huntsville has led Rogers and fellow Alabama Republican Rep. Dale Strong (R-Al.) to allege political pressure has altered the course of the project.

On May 19, Rogers sent a letter (pdf) to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, demanding they provide documentation that may explain the delay in the SPACECOM relocation process.

Rogers specifically asked the military officials for any documents or communications with any officials in the Biden Administration concerning SPACECOM Headquarters and any documents pertaining to a new announcement on where SPACECOM will be relocated.

Was SPACECOM Decision ‘Politically Motivated’?

Several political leaders in Colorado decried the Trump-era decision to move SPACECOM out of their state, including Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, Republican Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and Republican Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn.

“Reports that the in-depth military process found Colorado Springs to be the best location for military readiness and cost and recommended Colorado to the President only to be overruled for politically motivated reasons are deeply concerning,” Polis and Democratic Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said in a January 13, 2021 press statement.

The Denver Post reported that Suthers said Trump led the decision to relocate SPACECOM to Alabama and suggested he did so to reward Republican members of the Alabama congressional delegation who supported his challenges to the 2020 election results.

The Department of Defense Inspector General investigated the SPACECOM basing decision and, in a May 2022 report, determined the DoD “complied with law and policy, and was reasonable in identifying Huntsville as the preferred permanent location.”

In June 2022, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published its own analysis, which concluded that “the January 2021 selection of Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location for U.S. Space Command headquarters was consistent with the Air Force’s analysis” but “our assessment of the Air Force’s revised selection process and attendant analysis against our [Analysis of Alternatives] best practices identified significant shortfalls in its transparency and credibility.” The GAO advised the Air Force to implement additional transparency measures to “help prevent bias, or the appearance of bias, from undermining their credibility.”

In March, Kendall said that a location decision for SPACECOM would come “fairly soon,” but “we’re doing some additional analysis; we want to make very sure we got this right and have a well-defended decision.”

Rogers has criticized the continued delay and said that the politicization of the decision is coming from the Biden administration.

“The fact is, the Air Force already made the correct decision well over two years ago. That decision was affirmed by the GAO and the DoD Inspector General over a year ago,” Rogers said Thursday. “This decision was based on multiple factors, and Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, was the clear winner in the Evaluation and Selection phase. I am deeply concerned that the continued delays in making this move final are politically motivated and damaging to our national security.”

“The Administration’s delay risks politicizing a process which must remain fact-based. Injecting politics into America’s basing decisions serves to do unprecedented harm to our national security,” Strong added.

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