Briefline

Ukraine crisis bolsters case for keeping Space Command in Colorado, lawmakers tell Biden

By: - March 23, 2022 12:56 pm

A sign at the north entrance of Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs for U.S. Space Force, Sept. 26, 2021. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

All nine members of Colorado’s congressional delegation say keeping U.S. Space Command in the state is the best move for national security in light of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“We remain deeply troubled that the decision to relocate USSPACECOM undermined the two most important factors for any critical basing decision: protecting national security and minimizing cost,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Tuesday. “At a time when threats in space are rapidly increasing, particularly from Russia and China, USSPACECOM cannot afford any operational interruptions and must achieve Full Operational Capability (FOC) as quickly as possible.”

The letter has the support from the three Republicans and six Democrats who make up the delegation, a rare instance of bipartisan unity.

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In the fall of 2019, the U.S. Air Force named Peterson Air Force Base the temporary home to Space Command until at least 2026. Former President Donald Trump, however, then announced in early 2021 that Space Command would move to Huntsville, Ala., a decision that is currently under review by the Government Accountability Office and the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General.

Space Command assists with national security communications, satellite system defense and missile warning and defense — all of which is critical work to support U.S. European Command’s response efforts towards Russian aggression in Ukraine, lawmakers wrote.

They argue that Colorado is best poised to support the Space Command mission because of existing assets such as the National Space Defense Center and the National Reconnaissance Office’s Aerospace Data Facility-Colorado.

Last August, Space Command achieved initial operational capability, meaning it is in its minimum usefully deployable form.

“As Russia’s war on Ukraine evolves, it is vital for USSPACECOM to maintain operational continuity, and achieve (full operational capability) without delay. We remain concerned that moving the combatant command headquarters will slow the progress toward full capability – a delay we cannot afford at this fraught geopolitical moment in history,” the letter reads.

“We must respond to rapidly advancing threats in space by building on the investments that have already been made in Colorado and to our mission in space – not squandering time, money, personnel, and additional resources by moving USSPACECOM.”

The reports reviewing the Space Command basing decision are expected soon, and Colorado’s lawmakers want those findings, the cost of moving and national security implications to be considered in the final decision.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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