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During a House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee hearing on Friday, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) pressed Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall on the possible timeline for the final decision on U.S. Space Command's move to Huntsville.

Last week, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General released its report confirming that Redstone Arsenal was the best place for the Space Command headquarters facility.

Aderholt emphasized the suitability of Huntsville for the headquarters before asking Kendall what kind of timeframe there would be before the Air Force acted once a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report was released to the public.

"In reviewing last year's Space Command basing decision to relocate Space Command headquarters to Huntsville, Alabama, the inspector general ultimately found the basing decision, quote, 'complied with federal law and DOD policy and that the process was reasonable,'" Aderholt said. “Representing northern Alabama, I can personally tell you that Huntsville does have a perfect combination for experts, businesses, skilled workers, educational opportunities and quality of life that will help Space Command accelerate our nation's capabilities into the next generation. I look forward to seeing the GAO report when it's released, as I understand will be any day now. Mr. Secretary, let me address this question to you. Assuming for this question that the GAO report does not recommend overturning the original basing decision, can you briefly explain the process for reaffirming the basing decision and the timeline to stand up Space Command in Huntsville?"

According to Kendall, the Air Force would move on its final decision "as quickly as we can" and estimated a time of within "several months."

"We're all hoping to move forward with a final decision as quickly as we can," Kendall said. "We do need to see the final reports and assess those. And then the normal process at this point would be we have picked a preferred location and some acceptable alternatives, basically, a total of I think six. And so we need to do under the NEPA process an evaluation of environmental impacts and so on as well as look at some other considerations before we finalize the decision. Normally that process would take on the order of four months total. There would be about three months of which we'd be doing the -- assessments, another month of public comment. So I'm very hopeful that one way or the other, we get a final decision within the next several months."

When asked about the timeline, assuming the decision passed muster with the GAO, Kendall indicated to Aderholt that it was yet to be determined.

"Oh, to stand up after the decision -- I'd have to get you that for the record," Kendall said. "I understand it requires a new building to be built for the headquarters, and there's a lot of time, lead time associated with that."

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.

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