Bennet Wants White House Review Of Trump’s Decision To Move Space Command Away From Colorado Springs

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
President Donald Trump watches with Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Mark Esper as the flag for U.S. space Command is unfurled as Trump announces the establishment of the U.S. Space Command in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.

It’s no secret that Colorado’s politicians want the Biden administration to reverse the former administration’s decision to move Space Command headquarters out of Colorado Springs.

Now U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, chair of the committee, specifically want to find out if the Trump Administration took into account how the move will impact intelligence capabilities and missions when making the decision to move the headquarters to Huntsville, Alabama.

“We are concerned this decision did not take into account how such a move may affect Intelligence Community (IC) dependencies and missions,” they wrote to President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

The two are asking Biden to review the process that led to the decision to move Space Command headquarters out of Colorado.

Two other reviews of Trump's decision are ongoing

There are two other reviews into the decision already happening. One is spearheaded by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s watchdog group, which began at the request of Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, and which Bennet and Sen. John Hickenlooper also support. The other review is being conducted by the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

In the new request to the White House from Bennet and Warner, aside from suggesting the Trump administration did not look at how intelligence operations will be impacted, they argue that building a new headquarters in Alabama will be expensive, and that a move disrupts the workforce.

“We are keenly aware of the threats in space and the criticality of maintaining U.S. superiority in the face of an evolving threat landscape,” the senators wrote to Biden. “Space is a critical national security issue, and we cannot squander time, talent, or money on unnecessary expenditures or delays.”

The two Democrats argue there is valuable collaboration between the intelligence community and Defense Department that occurs in Colorado Springs because of past investments to foster that kind of collaboration at joint sites, such as the National Space Defense Center located at Schriever Air Force Base. And the two said both agencies benefit from communities of expertise in the area. 

The Senate Intelligence committee will continue to examine how the intelligence community is postured “to support U.S. superiority and leadership” in space. Bennet is focused on ensuring these issues are duly considered in the decision making process on Space Command, said a Bennet spokesperson.

Concerns that the ex-president's move was political, not strategic

Lamborn, Bennet, Hickenlooper and others fear that political concerns, and not defense ones, led former President Donald Trump to override the Air Force recommendation that would have kept Space Command in Colorado Springs.

Bipartisan members of the state’s congressional delegation have pointed to press reports  indicating Peterson Air Force Base had topped the list for the permanent headquarters, but that Trump ordered it to move to Alabama, a state that had voted for Trump in the 2020 election and which had several lawmakers support the former president’s election objections.

Local leaders in Colorado Springs share those concerns. Reggie Ash, chief defense development officer at the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, also heard from people that the Air Force’s first choice was Colorado Springs.

“Our delegation did a whole lot [on advocating for Colorado]. And ultimately it came down to electoral politics,” he said.