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Air Force stands by plan to move Space Command to Alabama

Headquarters, Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force, Dave Grim)

Despite cries from Colorado, acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth told Congress again Wednesday he knows of no political influence behind the decision to move Space Command headquarters to Alabama.

Responding to questions from U.S. Rep. James Lamborn (R-CO) during a hearing , Roth said, “I have personally no evidence that the decision was politically motivated.”

“It was the result of our strategic basing process,” Roth said, “and we have worked with all the stakeholders to try to do the analysis and we’re now in the process of doing the environmental analysis.”

Lamborn, the leading congressional critic of the move, said Colorado’s “understanding is that this was a political decision by the last administration and that the Air Force, while initially selecting Colorado Springs, had to go back and scramble to justify a different citing decision.”

The Air Force announced in January that the command’s headquarters should move from Colorado Springs to Huntsville.

As required for all big military moves, the Pentagon had conducted side-by-side comparisons on a variety of issues to minimize politics from the decision process. Alabama won the comparison.

Elected officials from Colorado have repeatedly challenged the decision. On Wednesday, Lamborn asked Roth if he would commit to provide the committee “with all of the background documents and internal communications of the Air Force’s Space Command decision-making process….”

“Yeah, I think to a large extent we already have,” Roth replied.

“We try to make the process as open and transparent as possible,” said Roth. “If requested, we will send you the folks who were involved in that decision and they’ll walk you through the criteria and the math and all of that.”

Roth showed his familiarity with the Space Command comparison study when Lamborn pushed him on the fact a new headquarters building would be needed in Huntsville while millions had been spent recently to upgrade the Colorado Springs’ facility.

“In both cases, in both Colorado Springs and Huntsville, Ala., both were going to require new buildings based on the requirement for something north of 1,400 people,” Roth said. The reference was to the number of personnel that would occupy the new headquarters.

“We were going to have to build a building whether it was in Colorado Springs or whether it was in Huntsville,” Roth said. “It turns out the basic construction costs and the maintenance costs and the like in Huntsville were significantly less than in Colorado Springs.”


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