Top Republican investigates ‘politically motivated’ delay in picking Space Command HQ
EXCLUSIVE: The House Armed Services Committee launched an investigation Thursday into what it calls a “politically motivated” delay in the selection of a permanent base for the U.S. Space Command headquarters.
Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., notified U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and the U.S. SPACECOM commander, Gen. James Dickinson, of the investigation in a letter that warned against further delays.
“I am deeply concerned that the continued delays in making this move final are politically motivated and damaging to our national security,” Rogers told Fox News Digital, which reviewed his letter exclusively.
Space Command is temporarily based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, but in January 2021, the U.S. Air Force chose Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, for a permanent site. At the time, the decision was considered a win for allies of former President Trump in Alabama.
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But the decision was delayed by the Biden administration. In his letter, Rogers said he was “alarmed” by several facts Kendall presented to the bipartisan membership of the Alabama delegation about the Space Command headquarters.
“Secretary Kendall has uncovered ‘fundamental changes’ being made to SPACECOM’s mission requirements, headquarters requirements, and related expenditures at temporary SPACECOM facilities which are apparently divorced from DOD’s stated policy,” wrote Rogers, who said it’s unclear who approved these changes.
“Yet such changes have occurred,” Rogers wrote. “These apparently sweeping unilateral changes to policies and posture seem to have been made with zero civilian oversight at the Department of Defense.”
“The Committee on Armed Services will also undertake its own investigation into this matter,” Rogers wrote, warning SPACECOM to “cease and desist from any action that implicates taxpayer funds in a scheme to alter the mission or headquarters requirements of SPACECOM without civilian order or oversight.”
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Rogers is demanding Kendall and Dickinson provide the committee with all documents related to any change in mission or headquarters requirements for SPACECOM created or modified since January 2021, as well as all records related to contracts, agreements, construction, and more for the temporary headquarters operations since President Biden took office. He asked for that information by June 8.
“The fact is, the Air Force already made the correct decision well over two years ago,” Rogers told Fox News Digital. “That decision was affirmed by the GAO and the DoD Inspector General over a year ago. This decision was based on multiple factors, and Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, was the clear winner in the Evaluation and Selection phase.”
Rogers launched the formal investigation after a request from Rep. Dale Strong, R-Ala., who is warning about the Biden administration’s “failure” to move on the location for the base.
“The administration’s delay risks politicizing a process which must remain fact-based,” Strong told Fox News Digital. “Injecting politics into America’s basing decisions serves to do unprecedented harm to our national security.”
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Redstone Arsenal is located in Huntsville, which is known as the “Rocket City” due to its long history in the space industry.
The Saturn V rocket, which took the first Americans to the moon, was developed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville in the 1960s. The aerospace industry has remained a major component of northern Alabama’s economy in the decades since.
At this point, more than 80 nations operate in space, and 50 countries have dedicated government budgets for space.
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The Space Force became the sixth branch of the U.S. military in 2020, with a projected size of 16,000 troops and an annual budget of $15.4 billion. Then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also added the Space Force as the 18th member of the U.S. intelligence community.
The branch’s responsibilities include “developing military space professionals, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to our Combatant Commands.”
Former President Trump first called for the creation of the Space Force in May 2018. Trump signed an order in December 2019 to establish the branch.