Vandenberg Air Force Base is one of only a handful of U.S. Air Force bases to make a short list for potential headquarters for the newly reinstated Space Command, according to a recent report by CNN.
The local military base has been a hot spot for rocket launches and other space-related activity in recent years, including March’s milestone test of an intercontinental missile defense system.
CNN reported April 6 that an Air Force memo identified six bases around the country that could potentially house the new combatant command, which President Donald Trump launched in December.
The list has since been widely published by various other media outlets, and the Air Force — while not commenting specifically on it — has also not disputed it.
The headquarters would house Space Command, which is separate from Trump’s more controversial proposed Space Force. The former would essentially be in charge of space warfare, while the latter would create an entirely new military branch.
The United States previously had a Space Command from 1985 to 2002, but it was absorbed in to a separate command after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to free up resources for homeland defense.
CNN reported that the unofficial list has not yet been submitted to leadership. The Air Force does not have a deadline by when it needs to pick a base.
According to CNN, the memo listed four bases in Colorado, one in Alabama and finally Vandenberg in Lompoc.
Notably, Florida — long the home of much of the United States’ space activities — was not included on the list.
Vandenberg is the only California base up for consideration, which could bring an unexpected economic boon to the Central Coast.
Congressman Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara said the current combined space operations center at Vandenberg “is already a leader for our space operations and military coordination between America’s greatest allies,” and noted that the Space Command headquarters would be a good fit there.
“Vandenberg’s extensive existing infrastructure and industry, beautiful region to attract top-tier talent, and proven launch capabilities would make it an ideal headquarters for USSPACECOM,” he told The Tribune in an email Thursday. “Not only will it strengthen our national security in space, but it will also help grow our local economy. We would welcome the command to the Central Coast.”
Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who represents the 35th District, said placing the command center at Vandenberg would be “a major boost to the local economy.”
“Bringing Space Command to Vandenberg would bring even more head-of-household jobs to the Central Coast and be a major boost to our local economy,” Cunningham said in an email to The Tribune on Friday. “Vandenberg Air Force Base is leading the nation in space innovation, and should be the home of the renewed space command.”
According to the CNN report, “the ‘projected manpower’ for the U.S. Space Command would be 1,450 personnel, including 390 military officers, 183 enlisted personnel, 827 civilians and 50 contractors.’
Vandenberg is currently home to more than 18,000 people, including personnel and civilians.
The Air Force’s criteria for where to base the command include cost, an existing military organization to become part of Space Command, access to a C-17 aircraft capable airfield, communications connectivity, administrative buildings and available base support, CNN wrote.
The memo also said Vandenberg’s Combined Space Operations Center would be assigned to Space Command, no matter if the base were selected as the new headquarters.
Requests for comment from Vandenberg Air Force Base media personnel were not returned Thursday or Friday.
© 2019 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.