by Douglas Messier
The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General has announced an investigation into the U.S. Air Force’s controversial decision to locate U.S. Space Command’s headquarters at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.
In a letter to the U.S. Air Force secretary, the office said it would investigate whether the decision process:
- “complied with DoD and Air Force policies during the location selection process;
- used objective and relevant scoring factors to rank the six candidate locations; and
- calculated the cost and other scoring factors accurately and consistently among the six candidate locations.”
In 2019, the U.S. Air Force reestablished the U.S. Space Command and designated Peterson Air Force Base as its provisional headquarters until 2026. Peterson had served as the command’s home from 1985 to 2002.
The U.S. Air Force announced its decision to move the command to the Redstone Arsenal on Jan. 13, one week before Trump left office and a week after Congress certified the election of Democrat Joe Biden.
Peterson AFB and Redstone Arsenal were two of six finalists to serve as U.S. Space Command’s permanent headquarters. The other finalists were three locations in Colorado — Buckley Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station — and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Colorado’s nine-member Congressional delegation asked President Joe Biden to suspend the move of the U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, until the administration conducts a full review of a decision.
“This move undermines our ability to respond to the threats in space and is disruptive to the current mission. Additionally, significant evidence exists that the process was neither fair nor impartial and that President [Donald] Trump’s political considerations influenced the final decision,” the delegation said in a Jan. 26 letter to the president.
The Colorado delegation said the decision to relocate the command to Alabama undermines national security and superiority in space.
“Colorado is home to unique military and intelligence space assets and is the point of military and intelligence operational space integration. Colorado served as the original home of U.S. Space Command from 1985 to 2002 and became the home of the Joint Forces Space Component Commander and Air Force Space Command,” the letter said.
“The National Space Defense Center (NSDC) at Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and the satellite communication capabilities at Peterson AFB represent the nation’s premier military and intelligence space coordination entities. It is not an accident these entities are co-located,” the document added.
Colorado’s Congressional delegation claimed that the U.S. Air Force changed the selection criteria in the middle of the progress.
“It is unclear why the Air Force slowed and eventually stopped its standard strategic basing process in 2019. Certain press reports have suggested this was done due to requests from various Members of Congress who argued their state should have been included in the process,” the letter said. “Finally, there is evidence President Trump’s political considerations influenced the timing and final decision.”
The Colorado delegation said the high percentage of civilian personnel in the U.S. Space Command will make a move to Alabama more difficult.
“Historically, there can be high rates of attrition when organization and programs move. For instance, roughly 80 percent of the Missile Defense Agency civilian employees declined to relocate when it moved from the Washington, D.C., area to Huntsville, Alabama. This is not a risk the space mission can afford,” the letter said.