Announcement to move Space Command upsets officials
Last updated 1/13/2021 at 4:02pm
An announcement by the Department of the Air Force today that U.S. Space Command will move from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Ala., has local and state leaders upset.
Officials from around Colorado have been speaking out about their disappointment in the news, and they vow to appeal the decision.
"It is not in the interest of national security and the American taxpayer to move Space Command," Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
Colorado Springs leaders said they began hearing about the decision late Tuesday, and they received a call from a local contact at Peterson Air Force Base on Wednesday morning.
Officials were taken by surprise because Colorado Springs had reportedly been at the top of the list of contenders. They said they had a compelling case to keep Space Command headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, and they said they suspect there are political motivations on the part of President Donald Trump's administration for the move – citing anonymous sources quoted in various news reports on the matter.
Suthers said he and numerous state political leaders, including Gov. Jared Polis, Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Congressmen Doug Lamborn and Jason Crow, discussed the situation in a telephone conference and that they "were all of the same mind" regarding their reaction to the news and thoughts on how to proceed.
"I am disappointed by the horrendous decision to rip U.S. Space Command out of its home in Colorado Springs and move it to a new location," Lamborn said in a statement. "There's no way around it: relocating SPACECOM will materially damage our national security. As we speak, our near-peer adversaries, Russia and China, are actively working to defeat our space capabilities. Moving a critical institution like Space Command for political reasons unrelated to national security would be foolish at the best of times."
Lamborn sent a letter to President-elect Biden urging him to reverse this decision. Suthers said his team would take similar action, and that the decision – at least in his mind – is far from final.
"I'm deeply disappointed," Suthers said. "If some of these sources bear out, I do think it may well not be the end of it."
The city intends to ask President-Elect Joe Biden's team to at least suspend this decision until a full evaluation can be done.
Suthers noted Space Command still has five years of its six-year term here, leaving plenty of time for the Biden administration to say "that's really stupid" and change the plan.
They also plan to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain documents detailing the evaluation of potential sites and how the decision was reached.
When asked how permanent he thinks the decision is, Suthers responded, "I don't know what the chances are. I do know that not a cent has been appropriated to move Space Command." He also noted there would be budget discussions on the matter ahead, and he questioned whether those approving funds would be agreeable to spending large quantities of money on such a move.
“Today’s news regarding Space Command is extremely disappointing,” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Stan VanderWerf. “Housing the permanent headquarters for U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs is right for our national security, our men and women in uniform, and is in line with the military’s own recommendation. Our region has the right infrastructure, work force, and community commitment to support this mission. Keeping USSPACECOM in Colorado Springs will also save taxpayer money. El Paso County remains committed to bringing U.S. Space Command to Colorado Springs and will work with policymakers, stakeholders, and community partners to reverse this decision.”
U.S. Space Command was created in 1985 and remained in Colorado Springs until 2002, when it was deactivated. It was reestablished in Colorado Springs in 2019 and has been located there ever since.