President Trump made the new U.S. Space Command official in a Thursday ceremony at the White House, but he did not announce which of three finalist states – Colorado, California or Alabama – will house its permanent headquarters.
The command’s startup headquarters will be in Colorado, where four of the final six headquarters candidates are located. But the lack of an announcement Thursday left supporters in Alabama’s entry of Huntsville hopeful.
“This is a landmark day,” Trump said from the Rose Garden. He called the new command, which will be led by Air Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, “a big deal.” It will be followed by a Space Force equal in stature to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, Trump said.
Trump said America’s adversaries are “weaponizing” space and turning it into “the next war-fighting domain.” The challenges in space are changing, Trump said, and the new command will make sure America’s response changes with them.
America military and defense leaders have grown increasingly concerned about threats in space. The country’s defense and commercial communications systems have major satellite components, and countries like China and Russia are believed developing faster-than-sound missiles that will require much earlier warning to defeat. That warning will come from clusters or arrays of small satellites, and they will also need protecting.
Alabama’s bid for the Space Command headquarters rests on the number of Army space organizations and laboratories already in Huntsville. The new Space Command is an Air Force command, but city leaders say the Army will be key to America’s space effort.
“We are optimistic about America’s commitment to investing in space technology as a national security and defense priority,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said in a statement after Trump’s remarks. “Today’s announcement begins the process of putting that commitment into action.
“We maintain that Huntsville is the best place for the permanent home of the new U.S. Space Command,” Battle said. “The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. Along with U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development organizations, the Missile Defense Agency and NASA, we have an entire space defense infrastructure that is unmatched anywhere else in the world.”
“With the intelligence, space, defense and production capabilities already here,” Battle said, “it will be far more cost-effective and efficient for Redstone to lead the U.S. Space Command. It is the smart choice. It is the right choice. “
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