Was it politically motivated? Almost certainly.
Will it significantly impact our region’s economy? Without a doubt.
It was announced Jan. 13 that outgoing President Donald Trump would move Space Command from Colorado Springs to its permanent home at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The decision, some say, was meant to reward the president’s loyalists and at the same time punish those who didn’t show a proper level of affection to the commander-in-chief.
The local response to the sudden move was immediate and appropriate. It included a statement by Mayor John Suthers who, along with Chamber & EDC President and CEO Dirk Draper, said they will file a Freedom of Information Act request for documentation regarding the decision to pull Space Command out of the Springs — a decision that went against an earlier recommendation from the United States Air Force to keep Space Command in Colorado.
The command’s move is far from finalized — the process will take some time. In the meantime, Suthers said he, Gov. Jared Polis, Lt. Gov. Diana Primavera, Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Colorado Reps. Doug Lamborn and Jason Crow are planning to team up to urge President Joe Biden and Congress to overturn the decision.
The mayor also said in a statement, “It is not in the interest of national security and the American taxpayer to move Space Command.”
He is right. And despite the Air Force’s early recommendation to keep the command in the Springs, it too about-faced on Jan. 13, stating in a news release, “Huntsville compared favorably across more of these factors than any other community, providing a large, qualified workforce, quality schools, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial and recurring costs.”
This is simply not true. Our city’s existing military and tech infrastructure, our access to numerous institutions of higher education (to include the U.S. Air Force Academy) and our longstanding reputation as one of the most military-friendly communities on the planet mean this move makes little practical sense. Oh, and did we forget to mention that Space Command’s temporary HQ is already in Colorado Springs?
In addition, the city had promised $130 million to help the command stand up permanently at Peterson Air Force Base, including free land, utilities perks and breaks on sales and use taxes.
But the ripple effect, if Space Command relocates, will be significant. Organizations like the Space Foundation may find the Springs less appealing; defense contractors may pick up and leave; the 1,400 mostly high-paying defense-related jobs will go elsewhere.
We commend the mayor and our other elected officials for taking immediate steps to demand accountability and ensure Colorado Springs remains the home of Space Command. But they should go one step further and condemn the politicians responsible for the decision for putting personal vindictiveness over our national security.
Peterson Air Force Base remains the provisional headquarters for Space Command, where it is expected to remain until at least 2026. Until then, the mayor, the governor and our representatives in Congress should get to the bottom of this decision and do everything within their power to keep Space Command in Colorado Springs.
It’s the right thing to do both for our economy and our national security.