Tuberville presses Space Command general to confirm SPACECOM’s move to Alabama
Questioning in Senate hearing comes hours after Tuberville spoke on Senate floor to highlight facts supporting the move to Redstone Arsenal
WASHINGTON — In a Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing today, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) pressed a senior military official in defense of the U.S. Air Force’s decision to build the U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) headquarters at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said this week he will decide “fairly soon” where to put the headquarters. The service is conducting further analysis because “we want to make very sure that we got this right,” Kendall told reporters on Tuesday at an Air Force Association conference in Colorado.
The decision to move the headquarters from its provisional home in Colorado has been met with a years-long, highly political debate. In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, 94 politicians, business leaders and military personnel from the western state argued that the command should stay in Colorado Springs.
In the last days of the Trump administration, the Air Force said on Jan. 13, 2021 it selected Army’s Redstone Arsenal as its preferred location for the permanent headquarters. The announcement caused Colorado leaders to decry the move as highly political, but Tuberville says the facts surrounding the case for Huntsville being the best choice still remain — regardless of politics.
In today’s SASC hearing, Senator Tuberville questioned General James Dickinson, commander of SPACECOM, about the criteria and scores that led to Huntsville’s selection. The hearing came hours after Tuberville took to the Senate floor to lay out the case supporting Redstone Arsenal as the best location for SPACECOM and urge the military to proceed with its original plan to permanently bring SPACECOM to Huntsville.
“In 2020, when then Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testified before this committee, he instructed the Air Force to allow for communities to self-nominate. That resulted in the Air Force examining 66 communities across 26 states, correct?,” Tuberville asked General Dickerson, who confirmed the question.
“It was an exhaustive selection process that weighed 21 different factors and involved site visits, interviews, and input from up and down the chain of command. That process took eight months, correct?” Tuberville continued. “As best I can recall,” Dickerson answered.
“The Commander in Chief selected the location that the Air Force ranked number one. Yet since the president selected Huntsville, the location, the Air Force study ranked #1, in January 2021, we’ve had two years of delay. The world is on fire right now and we need to catch up,” Tuberville continued to state. “The Colorado delegation asked for an Investigator General Report and GAO report on the process. Ironic, isn’t it. Colorado wasn’t even second or third, but they asked for a report. So, when the GAO examined this process, they said, and I’m going to quote here, ‘Redstone Arsenal ranked 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 stated that the decision to identify Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location stemmed from Air Force analysis showing it was the strongest candidate location. We’ve gone back and forth with this, and I know Secretary Kendal is going back and forth on this, hopefully we get this done.”
The questioning by Tuberville came on the heels of his remarks defending Redstone Arsenal as the future home of SPACECOM on the Senate floor Wednesday.
“It’s unfortunate that members from states that weren’t even really [in the] running for SPACECOM headquarters are trying to tie completely unrelated political issues to a fact-based decision,” Tuberville said. “The decision to put SPACECOM in Huntsville was based on facts — and facts alone — and evidence of what’s best for the military and for the country and national defense. That decision was then reconfirmed by multiple independent studies. The DoD Inspector General and the GAO confirmed that Huntsville was the number one location for SPACECOM — based on things like workforce, existing infrastructure, education, and the cost of living.”
“Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville is far and away the best place for SPACECOM. This is not my opinion, it’s fact. It’s fact from several studies. Attempts to change that with progressive talking points are shameful and purely political. It’s really a shame.”