The battle for the permanent U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) headquarters has been ongoing since 2019. Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, was ranked first among the many states who bid for the honor and was set to be the headquarters' new home until the Biden administration reversed the Trump-era decision in favor of sixth-ranked Colorado.
U.S. Rep Mike Rogers (R-Saks), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), has advocated for SPACECOM's permanent headquarters to be located at Redstone Arsenal. Last Thursday, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed, including an amendment from Rogers preventing SPACECOM from making Colorado Springs its permanent home while investigations are ongoing.
However, following the NDAA passing both chambers on Friday, SPACECOM Commanding U.S. Army General James Dickinson announced that his combatant command had already "achieved full operational capacity" in Colorado.
Rogers pushed back against Dickinson's declaration, calling it "political gamesmanship."
"This announcement is nothing more than a continuation of the Biden administration's political gamesmanship and only further proves their deep-rooted apathy toward national security," Rogers said. "The fact is that these 'operationally ready' facilities are nowhere near adequate for a combatant command headquarters. They know that, but they are simply trying to evade congressional oversight into this shameful process."
He added, "The House and Senate passed NDAA pauses building a headquarters in Colorado until the GAO and Inspector General can complete a review — giving more time for the truth to come out that Alabama is the best place for the Space Command headquarters."
Dickinson said he conducted an in-depth assessment of the command's capabilities and found it could operate on its "worst day" and when they're "most needed." He also said they had the proper infrastructure, skilled personnel and necessary command processes and functions in place.
Dickinson has come under fire many times before when discussing the infrastructure, skilled workforce and readiness. According to Rogers, making Colorado Springs the permanent HQ would cost an additional $426 million versus Redstone.
Rogers said SPACECOM at Redstone would be in a state-of-the-art Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) with proper security, fencing and force protection.
Additionally, Rogers pointed out flaws in the Colorado Springs facility, which costs $127 million to rent, and said it was unwise to put 500 of the U.S.'s most critical war-fighting decision makers in a 41-year-old abandoned factory next to a middle school, nine miles from Peterson Air Force Base that is inadequate to handle the highly classified systems.
U.S. Rep Dale Strong (R-Monrovia), a member of the HASC who represents the area surrounding Redstone Arsenal, also accused Dickinson of playing a "political game" and said Huntsville was still the best location.
"If General Dickinson believes 'full operational capability' has been met with Space Command Headquarters operating out of four buildings across Colorado Springs that lack force protection, he is fooling himself," Strong said. "The warfighter deserves better than what they have to offer over in Colorado, and the American people are smart enough not to buy into this political game. I'm thankful that the NDAA will require yet another investigation, which I am sure will prove what we all already know— Huntsville, Alabama, is the best place for Space Command."
Dickinson has been accused of playing an instrumental role in Biden's decisions to make Colorado the HQ.
Alabama's lone House Democrat, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), previously raised the issue of political gamesmanship during a congressional hearing.
Additionally, military leadership, including Dickinson, testified before HASC that moving from Colorado to Redstone would not negatively impact readiness for the command.
In addition to the claimed political aspect from the Biden administration. U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) released records showing that Dickinson had purchased a $1.5 million home with 20 acres of property while the issue was still supposedly in ongoing debate.
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn), on the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed with Rogers on this issue and worked closely to ensure the amendment preventing the permanent HQ from being established in Colorado stayed in the final version of the FY24 NDAA.
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