By Bill Pan
The headquarters of U.S. Space Command will remain in Colorado Springs, Colorado, instead of moving to Huntsville, Alabama, the White House confirmed on Monday.
Dissolved in 2002 and re-established in 2019, Space Command is tasked to deliver space combat power and defend space assets of the United States and allies. Despite its name, the command is separate from U.S. Space Force, the youngest branch of the U.S. military headquartered in Aurora, Colorado.
The decision ends more than two years of dispute between Colorado and Alabama officials after former President Donald Trump, in the final days of his first term, poised to relocate the 1,200-service member combatant command to Alabama.
It also marks a win for Colorado’s congressional delegation, who have been urging the Biden administration to retain Space Command in Colorado Springs, which is also home to the U.S. Air Force Academy and several military bases.
“Over the past two and half years, we have repeatedly made the case that the Trump Administration’s decision to relocate U.S. Space Command was misguided,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) wrote on social media.
“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,” he added. “Colorado is the rightful home for U.S. Space Command, and our state will continue to lead America in space for years to come.”
Sen. Katty Britt (R-Ala.) expressed frustration over the decision, insisting that by the U.S. Air Force’s own criteria, Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal is undoubtedly the place best suitable to host Space Command.
“Huntsville finished first in both the Air Force’s Evaluation Phase and Selection Phase, leaving no doubt that the Air Force’s decision to choose Redstone as the preferred basing location was correct purely on the merits,” she said in a statement, noting that Colorado Springs was only ranked at the fifth in all six candidates.
The senator pointed to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) last May, which reportedly stated that Air Force analysis identified Redstone Arsenal as the “highest scoring location in the Evaluation Phase, the highest ranked location in the Selection Phase, and the location with the most advantages in the decision matrix.”
“Air Force officials, including the then Secretary of the Air Force, stated that the decision to identify Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location stemmed from Air Force analysis showing it was the strongest candidate location,” the GAO report read.
Partisan Politics Claim
Ms. Britt went on to accuse President Joe Biden of politicizing the relocation debate. Denouncing the choice as a “blatant prioritization” of partisan politics, she argued that it would come at the expanse of “national security, military modernization, and force readiness.”
While she didn’t specify which political issue might have played a role in the choice, there is an ongoing battle between her colleague Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and the U.S. Department of Defense over a new policy that would, among other things, pay service members located in states where abortion is outlawed to travel to another state for abortion.
In protest against the policy, Mr. Tuberville is blocking hundreds of military promotions, including that of Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, who has been nominated as the next Space Command chief, and that of Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot, nominated to head the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Meanwhile, Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said Mr. Biden made the decision after a “thorough and deliberate evaluation process” that included consulting with top military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, and U.S. Space Command chief Gen. James Dickinson.
These military leaders “all support the President’s decision,” Brig. Gen. Ryder noted.
“Locating Headquarters U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs ultimately ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period. It will also enable the command to most effectively plan, execute and integrate military spacepower into multi-domain global operations in order to deter aggression and defend national interests.”
Prior to Monday’s decision, the command had temporarily been housed at Peterson Air Force in Colorado Springs, and it was planned to stay there through 2026.
While Colorado Springs is traditionally associated with Air Force, Huntsville hails a long history of supporting NASA’s space programs. For example, the Saturn V rocket, one of the most recognizable Cold War space race icons, was first designed and built in Huntsville.