Guest opinion: Finally, despite the complaining, Space Command heads to Alabama

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This is a guest impression column

In Might, immediately after two a long time of political thrust-again from Congressional delegations not picked out to property SPACECOM (U.S. Room Command) , the Governing administration Accountability Business office (GAO) and the Office of Protection (DoD) Inspector Common (IG) verified that the U.S. Air Power (USAF) method to determine the finest spot for U.S. Room Command (SPACECOM) was acceptable, in depth, and permissible. SPACECOM is heading to Huntsville, Alabama.

Politics are pretty much usually concerned when the federal govt decides to transfer perform to a state. For case in point, the country’s greatest employer, the DoD, spends around two billion bucks each individual 12 months on installations and in some cases derelict infrastructure due to the fact effectively-funded and determined politician’s rebuff an additional spherical of Foundation Realignment and Closure (BRAC). This implies that Associates of Congress, who are tasked with remaining very good stewards of our country’s purse, spend taxpayer bucks every single 12 months to preserve funding needless issues. So, it’s not astonishing that the stakes were being substantial with SPACECOM, it’s just unfortunate it put the brakes on countrywide security for several several years.

Redstone Arsenal environmental review paves way for Area Command’s transfer to Alabama

Even as the front-runners to host the new SPACECOM headquarters, Senator Tommy Tuberville and the Alabama Congressional delegation refused to participate in a community tit-for-tat with other Congressional delegations. Alabama federal reps labored quietly, diligently, and effectively to be certain the procedure was reasonable, legal, and neutral to all opportunity places. The congressional delegation was effectively supported by Governor Kay Ivey and Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth, Huntsville municipal government, and numerous persons from throughout Alabama.

Let us get a moment to search back again at the background of the standards based mostly and legally sufficient internet site area evaluation that selected Huntsville as the finest site for SPACECOM. In December of 2018 former President Donald Trump directed DoD to set up SPACECOM as a combatant command, 16 decades immediately after its first iteration had been disestablished. In April of 2019 the USAF introduced that the area of SPACECOM would be at a single of six web-sites – a few in Colorado and two other websites – as nicely as Huntsville.

But, following creating SPACECOM in August of 2019 and in reaction to complaints from other states who desired to be viewed as to host the HQ, the USAF was compelled to revise its method to picking the headquarters spot. States that host bases positioned on a DOD area set up or co-positioned with a USSPACECOM-connected command would be authorized to self-nominate for thought. Making use of 21 different conditions for the duration of the analysis period the USAF publicly announced six finalists for the headquarters place, including Huntsville as the quantity one selection. During the subsequent collection period, Huntsville was once more rated selection one particular.

On January 13, 2021 Redstone Arsenal was named as the favored place for United States House Command Headquarters. In accordance to the USAF public announcement, Huntsville was the most effective choice centered on elements “related to mission, infrastructure ability, community help, and charge to the Division of Defense.” Further, the USAF mentioned that Huntsville “compared favorably across more of these things than any other neighborhood.” Then, unrelated to the DoD/USAF basing conclusion but complimentary to its impartial review of Redstone Arsenal, the U.S. News and Planet Report asserted in May well 2022, what north Alabamans already understood, that primarily based on a standardized methodology, Huntsville is an remarkable place to reside, get the job done, and elevate a loved ones.

In a letter Senator Tuberville sent a to Senate Armed Products and services Committee Chairman Jack Reed on Could 18, 2022 he mentioned that as an alternative of supporting the conclusion, “politicians representing armed forces installations which were being not selected lifted unsubstantiated promises that the collection was a politically-enthusiastic selection by the preceding administration.” As Senator Tuberville outlines, the information demonstrate usually.

Relatively than help the USAF and U.S. nationwide protection passions the Colorado delegation in certain mounted a political force campaign. Very first, there was the demand from customers that President Joe Biden assessment and reverse the USAF basing decision. Then arrived a request for a GAO investigation which, in transform prompted a DoD IG evaluate. It was a stunning change of opinion from associates of Congress who earlier endorsed the requirements-centered range procedure.

In the long run, the DoD IG’s critique observed that “overall, we decided that the 2020 Basing Motion method directed by the Secretary of Defense complied with Federal Law and DoD policy and that the method was reasonable.” Then, in June, the GAO discovered that the “the January 2021 range of Redstone Arsenal as the chosen place for U.S. House Command headquarters was steady with the Air Force’s analysis” though figuring out realistic options for improvement in long run basing selections.

So, unless the USAF disregards its possess procedure and conclusions, ultimately immediately after impartial basing choices and two decades crammed with many independent (and politically affected) reviews Huntsville continues to be the appropriate choice for SPACECOM Headquarters. From the starting Huntsville was a preferred area and by an neutral and fair conditions-based mostly investigation Rocket City emerged as the leading preference. Fortunately, complaining did not transform that.

David F. Lasseter is a previous Deputy Assistant Secretary of Protection, checking out fellow at the National Safety Institute, and Founder of Horizons World-wide Remedies.

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Debbie A. Cunningham

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