Bennet, Hickenlooper, Bipartisan Senators Push for Answers from Investigation of Space Command Move

Colorado News

DENVER, Colo. — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and John Hickenlooper (D) and a bipartisan group of their Senate colleagues outlined recommendations for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) to include in the investigation of the decision to move U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Huntsville, Alabama. 

The letter to Acting DoD IG Sean O’Donnell follows the announcement that the DoD IG’s office is launching an investigation into the Trump Administration’s decision to move U.S. Space Command.  

In their letter, Bennet, Hickenlooper, and their colleagues outline several questions they want the investigation to address: 

  • Why did the Department of Defense end the Strategic Basing Process in 2019 and subsequently create and use a new and untested process for the subsequent evaluation in 2020? 
  • How did the Department of Defense establish the baseline building and command requirements for the 2020 process? 
  • Did the Department of Defense consider each of the sites’ existing infrastructure in evaluating costs?
  • Did the Department of Defense data sets provide a consistent, objective, and fair representation of each site’s qualities and conditions?

Following the relocation announcement in January, Bennet and Hickenlooper denounced the decision and expressed concern that the Trump White House injected politics into the process. Later that month, Bennet, Hickenlooper and the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation urged President Joe Biden to suspend the Trump Administration’s decision to move U.S. Space Command. 

In addition to Bennet and Hickenlooper, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).

Background

In 2019, Bennet and former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) led the Colorado Congressional Delegation in writing to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and to Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan and Commander of U.S. Space Command General Jay Raymond to emphasize why Colorado should be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command. Bennet and Gardner also published an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette advocating for the basing decision. Following the White House’s official announcement of the creation of U.S. Space Command in August 2019, the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation reiterated their call to re-establish the headquarters in Colorado. In the original basing decision process, of the six possible locations that the Air Force named, four were in Colorado: Peterson Air Force Base (AFB), Schriever AFB, Buckley AFB, and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. In the fall of 2019, the Air Force named Peterson AFB the temporary home to U.S. Space Command.

In December 2019, Bennet met with Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and spoke with the Commander of U.S. Space Command General John W. Raymond to discuss the importance of a focus on national security space and to reiterate his support for basing Space Command in Colorado.

In May 2020, the Air Force announced a new basing decision process that evaluated self-nominating communities, like Aurora and Colorado Springs, on their ties to the military space mission, existing infrastructure capacity, community support, and cost to the Air Force. The Air Force also announced Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs would remain the provisional location of the command until 2026. Bennet and Gardner wrote a letter to Polis calling for him to support military spouse licensure reciprocity in the state, which Polis then signed into law in July 2020. Spouse licensure reciprocity was a component of the Air Force’s evaluation of each nominating state’s support for military families. Following passage of Colorado House Bill 20-1326, the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation, Polis, and Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Barrett to highlight the new Colorado law and further demonstrate that Colorado is the best state to serve as the permanent home of the U.S. Space Command.

In June 2020, Bennet welcomed Polis’ endorsement of the self-nomination of both the Aurora and Colorado Springs communities to compete to be the permanent home for U.S. Space Command. At the end of August 2020, the Aurora and Colorado Springs communities submitted their questionnaire responses to the Department of the Air Force completing the next step in the basing process. 

In August 2020, Bennet visited Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB for an update on the U.S. Space Command mission and stand up. He also met with General Dickinson, who assumed command in August, and learned about advancements at the National Space Defense Center. 

In November 2020, the Air Force announced Colorado Springs as a finalist for the U.S. Space Command headquarters. 

In December 2020, Bennet and Hickenlooper joined more than 600 state, federal, local, county and municipal officials, businesspeople, philanthropists, civic leaders, military officials, entrepreneurs and Coloradans from across the state in a letter urging former President Donald Trump to keep the Command in the Centennial State.

In January, following the relocation announcement, Bennet and Hickenlooper released a statement denouncing the decision and expressing concern that the Trump White House influenced the decision for political reasons. The entire Colorado Congressional Delegation also urged President Biden to suspend the move.

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.

Dear Mr. O’Donnell: 

We write to request you consider the following subjects in your ongoing investigation into the Trump administration’s U.S. Space Command basing decision on January 13, 2021.

As you conduct your investigation, we ask that you address the following questions, in addition to the subjects named in the investigation announcement:

  • Why did the Department of Defense end the Strategic Basing Process in 2019 and subsequently create and use a new and untested process for the subsequent evaluation in 2020? 
  • How did the Department of Defense establish the baseline building and command requirements for the 2020 process? 
  • Did the Department of Defense consider each of the sites’ existing infrastructure in evaluating costs?
  • Did the Department of Defense data sets provide a consistent, objective, and fair representation of each site’s qualities and conditions?

Thank you for your consideration on this important subject. 

Sincerely, 

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