Biden to reverse Trump decision to move Space Command to Alabama
The decision to keep the command at its current home in Colorado will surely enrage Alabama politicians.
The Biden administration will keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado, reversing a Trump administration plan to move the headquarters to Alabama.
The move seems likely to enrage Alabama Republicans, who have been feuding with the White House and the Pentagon over numerous political issues.
“Locating Headquarters U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs ultimately ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a Monday statement. “It will also enable the command to most effectively plan, execute and integrate military spacepower into multi-domain global operations in order to deter aggression and defend national interests.”
The Associated Press first reported the decision Monday afternoon.
Ryder said the decision to keep the command in Colorado was supported by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, and Gen. James Dickinson, the Army general in charge of Space Command.
Colorado has been home to Space Command since the Trump administration turned the headquarters into a combatant command in August 2019. The state is also home to several Space Force bases used to control satellites flying high above the Earth.
Trump called for moving the command to Huntsville, Alabama. Home of the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, a sprawling military complex with thousands of personnel, the Rocket City has played an outsized role in U.S. space exploration. The vast majority of defense contractors have a presence in Huntsville. Trump’s call was echoed by his final Air Force secretary, Barbara Barrett, one week before she resigned at the end of the Trump administration.
The decision was put on hold by the incoming Biden administration. In March of this year, Kendall said he would decide “fairly soon” where to put U.S. Space Command headquarters.
In the meantime, Alabama lawmakers loudly pressed claims that the command’s headquarters ought to move to their state. But few others seemed to agree. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., noted that the Missile Defense Agency lost 80 percent of its workforce when it moved to Alabama in 2005.
Space Command’s Dickinson responded that the uniformed troops who make up roughly 38 percent of the command’s workforce would move if so ordered. But as for the 62 percent who are DOD civilians—a proportion that jumps to 80 percent if contractors are included—“there’s really no way to know” how many would move, Dickinson said.
“Lots of those folks are a great civilian workforce. They have made life choices and that's why they live, for example, in Colorado Springs. The military — we’re soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians—if told to move, we’ll move,” he said.
Audrey Decker contributed to this report.