Air Force says facts, not politics, favored Alabama in Space Command HQ decision
The Air Force continues to defend its decision to locate US Space Command headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, citing a list of government offices and organizations that gave their opinion before the decision.
Leaders in Colorado, one of the competing finalist states and home to the Provisional Command headquarters, complain that politics motivated the decision to move command south.
This decision announced this month is not final pending an environmental impact study. The final decision is expected in spring 2023.
Colorado critics say former President Donald Trump stepped in to choose Alabama to reward Sen. Tommy Tuberville, one of eight Republican senators who challenged portions of the Electoral College certification in Congress.
But in response to questions from AL.com this week, the Air Force said, “The Secretary of the Air Force has carefully reviewed all of the contributions, comments, staff analysis, the best military advice, changes in the strategic environment and the most important evaluation criteria. .
“Given the complexity and importance of this decision,” said the Air Force press office, “it also received comments from the National Command Authority, from the oversight committees. defense, senior commanders and functional staff experts before making a decision on the preferred location.
After considering all of this, the Air Force said Secretary Barbara Barrett chose Huntsville.
The National Command Authority included Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But it’s unclear who in that group gave Barrett comments or what those comments may have been.
The Air Force said this week that Alabama was chosen “based on factors related to the mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and cost to the Department of Defense.” Huntsville compared favorable to more of these factors than any other community … “He cited” a large and skilled labor force in the area, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial and recurring costs. “
When asked about city and state incentives, the Air Force said it “would defer to the local Huntsville community for any information relating to its self-nomination file.”
Mayor Tommy Battle said the city will speed up some major road projects to accommodate the order, including the completion of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive north bypass at Memorial Parkway. This completed highway will expand and facilitate traffic in the arsenal of northern Madison County and southern Tennessee. The state of Alabama also offers incentives.
“We are working on the details to finalize and secure an agreement with local stakeholders so I am not yet able to provide financial support values for US Space Command to locate in Huntsville, AL on Redstone Arsenal” Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said. this week. “The State of Alabama will provide support for new housing and labor recruitment.”
Redstone Arsenal is a 38,000-acre base led by Four-Star General Edward Daly, Commander of the US Army Materiel Command. It has 40,000 employees in 78 federal organizations, including NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Army Aviation and Missile Command, US Missile Defense Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency / Missile and Space Intelligence Center, Army Space and Missile Defense. Command and the Army Combat Capabilities Development. Command the air force and the missile center.
Also in the space arena, Lockheed Martin announced last year that it would build a facility to test and manufacture hypersonic weapons in Courtland, Ala. Hypersonics are a new frontier in combat with faster-than-sound missiles.
And the FBI also recently selected Redstone for a major expansion outside of Washington, DC.
US Space Command is what the military defines as a Unified Combatant Command, which is a joint military command made up of several military assets involved in space operations. It is often confused with the relatively new US Space Force, which is a military service like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. The Space Force “organizes, trains and equips space forces to protect US and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force,” the Air Force said.
Colorado was one of six states vying for the seat of Space Command, including Alabama, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Nebraska.
(AL.com journalist Paul Gattis contributed to this report)