U.S. Senators Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt both released statements reiterating their positions that Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville is the best permanent location for the headquarters of U.S. Space Command and will advance America’s vital national security interests.
“Locating the permanent Space Command Headquarters on Redstone Arsenal undoubtedly remains in the best national security interest of the United States,” said Sen. Britt. “Huntsville finished first in both the Air Force’s Evaluation Phase and Selection Phase, leaving no doubt that the Air Force’s decision to choose Redstone as the preferred basing location was correct purely on the merits. That decision should remain in the Air Force’s hands and should not be politicized. Selecting a fifth-place finisher would obviously prioritize partisan political considerations at the expense of our national security, military modernization, and force readiness. Alabama’s world-class aerospace and defense workforce, capabilities, and synergies stand ready to fulfill the mission and strengthen our national security long into the future.”
“The U.S. Air Force’s thorough selection process and decision to put SPACECOM headquarters in Alabama was based on evidence of what’s best for the military and the country,” said Sen. Tuberville. “The Air Force selected Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, over 65 other locations, including Colorado. Members of Congress from Colorado requested two additional studies when they didn’t get their way. Both of those studies confirmed that Huntsville was the number one location for SPACECOM — based on things like workforce, existing infrastructure, education, and cost of living. Colorado did not make the top three. The best place for Space Command is in Huntsville. This is not my opinion, this is fact.”
News media reports confirm that a U.S. Government Accountability Office report dated May 2022 stated, “Air Force analysis identified Redstone Arsenal as the highest scoring location in the Evaluation Phase, the highest ranked location in the Selection Phase, and the location with the most advantages in the decision matrix. Air Force officials, including the then Secretary of the Air Force, stated that the decision to identify Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location stemmed from Air Force analysis showing it was the strongest candidate location.”
The same report said Air Force documentation from January 2021 affirmed that “Redstone Arsenal rated the best of the six candidate locations based on the criteria and noted that selecting Peterson Air Force Base as the preferred location would not align with the results of Air Force Selection Phase analysis.”
“[T]he January 2021 selection of Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location for U.S. Space Command headquarters was consistent with the Air Force’s analysis,” the GAO added. “Multiple senior officials we interviewed stated that they felt the process was unbiased, including the former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy; the former Secretary of the Air Force; the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the U.S. Space Command Combatant Commander; and the U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations.”
Finally, per the GAO, “[T]he Air Force identified the ability to disperse combatant commands geographically as supporting its decision, and Air Force officials told us that they considered risk related to colocating U.S. Space Command and U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base as a military judgment issue. The Air Force considered dispersing combatant commands in different geographic areas as a strategic advantage and a way to avoid placing two combatant commands at risk from the same threat.”
In addition to the GAO report, the Air Force’s decision to locate the permanent Space Command HQ on Redstone Arsenal has been cleared by a Department of Defense Inspector General evaluation and has completed an environmental review.
Tuberville said that reports that the Air Force’s selection process was political or contrary to the advice of Pentagon officials are not supported by fact. President Joe Biden’s administration has repeatedly confirmed the selection of Huntsville as a “strategic” and an “analytically based process.”
On February 22, 2021, then-Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement, “Secretary Austin has communicated to Air Force leaders that he supports their decision-making process about the preferred location of Space Command headquarters.”
On June 16, 2021, John Roth, President Biden’s Acting Secretary of the Air Force at the time, testified at a U.S. House Armed Services Committee hearing. In his testimony, Acting Secretary Ross said, “I have personally no evidence that the decision was politically motivated…[t]he selection of Huntsville as the preferred location by my predecessor was the result of our strategic basing process, and that process is an analytically based process.”
Sen. Tuberville’s work to support the relocation has been ongoing.
In 2020, the U.S. Air Force conducted an extensive search for the best location for the new home of SPACECOM, reviewing objective criteria like infrastructure, costs, mission capability, and the quality of the local community. Sixty-six locations in twenty-six states were evaluated, and in the end, Redstone ranked number one.
At the request of other lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted investigations into U.S. Air Force’s site selection process for SPACECOM headquarters.