President Biden has decided to keep the headquarters forin Colorado, reversing a decision then-President Donald Trump made in his final days in office to move the command to Alabama.
Mr. Biden made the decision at the recommendation of military officials who said it would be better for readiness to keep the command where it is, instead of taking the time and resources to outfit a new headquarters, according to a U.S. official.
The president notified the Defense Department of his decision on Monday.
“Locating Headquarters U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs ultimately ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a statement.
The decision comes after years of controversy over Trump’s choice of Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, as the permanent location for the command, which oversees U.S. military operations in outer space.
Reviews by the Defense Department inspector general and the Government Accountability Office found the Air Force largely followed the standard protocol for making a basing decision when the Alabama site was selected. However, Mr. Trump told a radio show in August 2021 that he “single-handedly” made the call to move the command’s headquarters.
Some of Mr. Trump’s strongest supporters in Congress hail from Alabama. Republican Rep. Mo Brooks left office earlier this year, but many observers connected his support of Trump to the 2021 decision to move the headquarters to Redstone Arsenal. Brooks spoke at a rally of Trump supporters near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, just days before the announcement that the headquarters would be moved to Alabama.
The decision to keep the headquarters in Colorado also comes as Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville continues his blanket hold on military nominations to protest the Pentagon’s policy of paying for service members to travel for reproductive health care, including abortions. There are currently more than 270 general and flag officers pending final confirmation from the Senate.
The official said the decision was based on military advice and not connected to Tuberville’s hold.
In a statement Monday, Tuberville said the decision to keep the headquarters in Colorado “just adds to the long string of bad decisions that this compromised President has made.”
“Over two and a half years ago, the Air Force chose Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville for the headquarters of Space Command over 59 other cities on the basis of 21 different criteria,” he said. “As soon as Joe Biden took office, he paused movement on that decision and inserted politics into what had been a fair and objective competition — not because the facts had changed, but because the political party of the sitting President had changed.”
Members of Congress from Colorado praised the Biden administration’s decision.
“Colorado is the rightful home for U.S. Space Command, and our state will continue to lead America in space for years to come,” Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said in a statement.