(WHNT) — Two members of Alabama’s congressional delegation are escalating the battle over the future location of U.S. Space Command.
Huntsville-area Congressman Dale Strong said Thursday he’s asked U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers to launch an investigation into the decision-making process for the command’s location.
“After a delegation meeting with the Secretary of the Air Force, I had no choice but to request that House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Mike Rogers, open a formal investigation into the Biden Administration’s failure to announce a permanent location for U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) Headquarters,” said Congressman Strong.
Rogers, who is the House Armed Services Chairman, wrote a letter to United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall on May 19 and on May 25.
On Friday, May 26, the following joint statement was released from the City of Huntsville’s Mayor Tommy Battle, Madison County Commission Chair Mac McCutcheon, and Madison Mayor Paul Finley regarding the “questionable delays” in establishing the site selection for the SPACECOM headquarters:
“As one of the nation’s leading military communities, we are gravely concerned about revelations regarding the post-site selection process for SPACECOM headquarters, as outlined in an investigation announced by the House Committee on Armed Services.
Conversations between Alabama’s bipartisan congressional delegation and the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force further illuminate a shadowy attempt to undermine an objective process that identified Huntsville-Redstone as the best location for SPACECOM headquarters.
Changing the rules in this critical decision-making process, seemingly day to day without any civilian oversight, shakes the foundational pillars of trust between the American public and the Department of Defense (DOD). A blatant attempt to skew independent findings and use highly questionable tactics to award SPACECOM headquarters to a 5th place nominee should be an affront to the DOD and U.S. Air Force. It is not in the best interest of our military, the safety and security of our warfighter, our country, and our allies. It breaks our trust in everything we know to be right and true.
Huntsville-Redstone met the objective criteria related to the needs of our national defense following an exhaustive multi-year selection process. We were chosen because we could best provide for the mission’s vital, long-term strategic interests. To have this process dishonored, dismissed, and invalidated is highly alarming.
The promise of SPACECOM has sadly been politicized and highjacked by unseen individuals who would seemingly and selfishly rather jeopardize national security than do the right thing. Now, the integrity of the DOD and future success of this mission is at stake. A swift, thorough, and transparent investigation will help to restore credibility in SPACECOM and our military partners. We commend the House Committee on Armed Services for beginning this effort.
The City of Huntsville, City of Madison, and Madison County stand ready to step up and support our chosen role in providing the critical infrastructure and needs for SPACECOM headquarters.”
In the letters, Rogers asks that they “take immediate steps to preserve all records created, referenced, or modified concerning the selection of a location for U.S. Space Command (“SPACECOM”) Headquarters, since January 20, 2021.”Tommy Battle, Mayor of Huntsville, Alabama
Mac McCutcheon, Chair of the Madison County Commission, Alabama
Paul Finley, Mayor of Madison, Alabama
Rogers asked that the following types of documents related to the Space Command decision be preserved:
- Any assessment, memorandum, briefing or other records related to the Air Force’s selection of a location
- All documents and communications related to any planned public announcements on SPACECOM headquarters
- All documents and communications with any Biden administration officials concerning SPACECOM headquarters
The first letter, written on May 19, goes on to state that due to the Air Force’s “deleterious actions,” regarding the selection of a location for Space Command Headquarters have required the House Armed Services Committee to request the documents be preserved.
Rogers cites the ‘politicization’ of the move and interference from White House officials as reasons for the delay.
“Air Force officials have continued to delay finalizing the move of SPACECOMU.S. House Representative Mike Rogers, Alabama’s 3rd District
Headquarters to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, in response to apparent politically
motivated interference by political appointees in the Biden Administration.”
In the second letter, Rogers talks about fundamental changes being made to mission and headquarters requirements and related expenditures at temporary SPACECOM facilities uncovered by Secretary Kendall in a meeting with the Alabama Delegation Tuesday. It states that Kendall told the delegation he did not direct Space Command to make these fundamental changes and was unaware of anyone in the Department of Defense doing so either.
Kendall informed the delegation that he has launched his own investigation into these delays and changes, according to the letter. Rogers stated the Committee is undertaking its own investigation.
Strong went on in a statement to thank Rogers for agreeing to and opening this investigation.
“The members of the House Armed Services Committee
, and our service members awaiting a final basing decision deserve answers and swift action from the Air Force,” said Strong.
The Secretary of the Air Force reportedly denied claims that the decision on U.S. Space Command’s location will have anything to do with Alabama politics or laws on Monday.
According to a report from online military news outlet Stars and Stripes on Monday, Kendall denied reporting that said White House officials were looking to ‘halt plans’ to bring U.S. Space Command to Huntsville over state laws.
“The decision criteria for Space Command have not fundamentally changed,” Kendall told Stars and Stripes. “There is nothing in that decision criteria about state laws, that might be about abortion or gay rights. That is not part of the decision criteria.”
This comes after NBC News reported on May 15 that the White House may be pushing to delay USSPACECOM coming to the Rocket City over the state’s restrictive abortion law and Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) blocking of over 200 of President Joe Biden’s military nominations.
Alabama lawmakers recently spoke out against that same NBC report Kendall denied, each stating their belief that the decision should be based on the original criteria set and not politically motivated.
Senator Katie Britt, Congressman Dale Strong and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle also made public statements in March following the publication of an editorial in the Washington Post, which claimed Biden would be moving to undo a Trump administration plan to move Space Command to the Rocket City.
President Trump established the Space Command in December 2019. The following year, the command revised its search for a permanent home. Redstone Arsenal was on that shortlist of potential sites, as a final decision was slated for 2023.
Space Command’s temporary headquarters are currently in Colorado Springs, although Redstone Arsenal is in the running for the permanent headquarters.
Huntsville was named a finalist in early 2021. Then, in 2022, the Department of Defense named the city as the “preferred permanent location for U.S. Space Command headquarters.”
While Huntsville was named the preference, many in Colorado fought to turn the temporary headquarters into the permanent headquarters.
Huntsville finished first in both the Air Force’s evaluation phase and the selection phase, while Colorado Springs finished fourth and fifth respectively.
An official decision on where the permanent headquarters will be located has still not been made, and for the time being U.S. Space Command remains in Colorado Springs.
For more information on the United States Space Command, click here.