By U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala. and U.S. Rep. Dale Strong, R-Ala.
This is a guest opinion column
Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Biden Administration’s flawed and deeply troubling decision to name Colorado Springs, Colorado the permanent home of United States Space Command (SPACECOM). In selecting Colorado Springs, the Biden Administration chose to play politics with our national security and erroneously cite “readiness” as the deciding factor in the decision.
As is par for the course with Joe Biden, the facts tell a different story. The so called “readiness” issue is clearly fraudulent and was completely debunked at our hearing.
First of all, operational space readiness is not conducted by SPACECOM. In fact, in testimony during our hearing, General Chance Saltzman, the general officer with day-to-day responsibility for the readiness of 90% of SPACECOM’s assigned forces, stated “it is my belief that the permanent location of USSPACECOM headquarters will not impact the readiness of U.S. Space Force forces.”
Secondly, the provisional SPACECOM headquarters in Colorado Springs was never supposed to be permanent. It was established for the sole purpose of ensuring there was no impact on readiness during the move to Alabama.
Thirdly, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said that in recommending Huntsville he found the move would have no impact on readiness.
And finally, General James Dickinson, the current SPACECOM Commander, told the Alabama delegation in person that the move to Huntsville would have no impact on readiness.
This Administration has conveniently ignored the fact that the units providing nearly all SPACECOM’s operational forces are not and were never planned to move anywhere regardless of the SPACECOM headquarters decision. They also ignore the fact that SPACECOM’s functions have already moved once: From Nebraska to Colorado when responsibilities were split out from STRATCOM – with no readiness impact.
Furthermore, according to Air Force documentation transmitted to our committee just two days before the hearing, Colorado Springs is projected to cost $426 million dollars more than Huntsville, Alabama for headquarters construction in the next 15 years. That’s $426 million dollars of potential improvements in the quality of life for our junior enlisted servicemen or money for weapons procurement to deter China. Instead, $426 million would be spent solely for political influence and not on national security.
Not only has the Biden Administration dumped millions into making Colorado look competitive, but they also appear to have spent even more to legitimize those efforts.
Documents we received from DOD show that SPACECOM has already spent over $127 million dollars in Colorado including tens of millions of dollars to put 500 of our most critical space warfighting decisionmakers in an abandoned, 41-year-old factory that is next to a middle school, around the corner from an apartment complex, and across the street from a neighborhood. It is nine miles away from Peterson AFB. Nine miles. This leased space has no proper fence, obsolete security systems, and inadequate facilities to handle the highly classified systems our space capabilities rely on.
The future SPACECOM headquarters in Huntsville would be a state-of-the-art classified facility located within the secure confines of Redstone Arsenal.
So, what is behind this Administration’s paper-thin readiness argument? It is politics and Joe Biden attempt to endear himself to a Democrat-led state prior to next year’s election.
There is no reasonable justification for these actions except for political considerations. It is indefensible that Joe Biden turned the fifth-place finisher into the winner of this basing competition.
Every day that Joe Biden plays politics with our military is another day we day fall behind China. Whether it is his efforts to indoctrinate our brave warfighters with his woke ideology or interfering with basing decisions for electoral purposes, Joe Biden is severely damaging our national security. Everyone in our hearing room knew that. Because of that, at the end of the hearing we announced that we are demanding the DOD Inspector General investigate the Biden Administration’s decision.
It is our duty to fight the Biden Administration’s political gamesmanship. And fight back we will.