A review by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General’s Office released Tuesday evening said the Air Force’s review process to move U.S. Space Command to Redstone Arsenal “was reasonable in identifying Huntsville as the preferred permanent location.”
The command, which is now based at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado, oversees military operations in space.
“We found that the process Air Force officials used to select Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred permanent location for the U.S. Space Command headquarters (USSPACECOM HQ) complied with law and policy, and was reasonable in identifying Huntsville as the preferred permanent location,” the Inspector General’s Office said. “We determined that, overall, the basing action process directed by the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) complied with Federal law and DoD policy, and the Air Force complied with the SECDEF’s requirements for the basing action,…”
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, said in a tweet, “This is good news and reaffirms what I have already known to be true: that the Air Force selected Huntsville based on merit and that Huntsville is the best place for Space Command to call home.”
The report said there were 21 criteria used by Basing Office officials in assessing the move.
However, the report said, “In addition, for three criteria (child care, housing affordability, and access to military and veteran support), we could not determine the reasonableness or accuracy of the rankings because either the Basing Office personnel or SME (subject matter experts) were not available to discuss them or there was no supporting documentation.”
“Nonetheless, the Secretary of the Air Force placed less importance on these three criteria in selecting the host location for USSPACECOM HQ,” the report noted.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will also release its findings on the decision to relocate the combatant command to the Yellowhammer State. Additionally, an environmental impact study must be conducted before the decision is official.
In a statement reacting to the report, Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong expressed his desire for the report’s findings to end debate as to where Space Command’s headquarters should be located.
“This review confirmed what we knew all along. The process for making this selection was fair and considered many factors – and at the end of that process Redstone Arsenal was always the clear winner for Space Command Headquarters,” said Strong. “I hope we can now stop the second guessing and begin the real work to establish this new Command here at Redstone.”
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, declared that the prior administration’s decision to relocate Space Command to the Rocket City was “rock solid.”
“The bottom line of the report is that the Air Force’s process which led to the selection of Redstone as the best home for SPACECOM was rock solid,” stated Tuberville. “For more than a year the IG conducted an audit of the Air Force’s work. I’m pleased that, after this extensive evaluation, the IG confirmed that the basing process complied with the law and that the decision was based on objective factors. The prior administration followed the rules to make the best decision for the warfighter: SPACECOM should be in Huntsville.”
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) hailed the DOD report and advised that relocating Space Command to Redstone Arsenal is in the best interest of national security.
“The selection of Redstone Arsenal is a testament to Alabama and the Tennessee Valley’s space and defense ecosystem—which currently hosts the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Strategic Forces Command, Army Aviation and Missile Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center, Missile Defense Agency operations, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center,” proclaimed Brooks. “The U.S. Air Force has been very clear from the beginning that this basing decision was merit-based, and the DoD IG report confirmed this decision was made properly and in the interest of America’s national security.”
The congressman concluded, “The road to Space Force runs through Alabama and the Tennessee Valley. It is in the best interest of our national security for Redstone Arsenal to host SPACECOM HQ. I welcome the findings of this report and will continue to do all I can to ensure this decision holds. This I.G. Report is yet another major victory for Redstone Arsenal, the Tennessee Valley, and all of Alabama.”
U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) took to social media Tuesday evening to celebrate the report’s findings.
This is great news! Alabama is the right choice.
Space Command belongs in Huntsville! https://t.co/IQ6CfhXCwM
— Rep. Jerry Carl (@RepJerryCarl) May 10, 2022
UPDATE 8:54 p.m.:
In a statement, Mayor Tommy Battle said the Huntsville area would coordinate with national partners to ensure Space Command’s success.
“The City of Huntsville is pleased with the findings of the recently released report from the Department of Defense Inspector General,” stated Battle. “The results show what we have long maintained: the process for selecting Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal as the home for United States Space Command was a fair and above-board competitive process that followed proper military policy and protocol.”
“Space Command represents a significant commitment to protect our country and assets in space. Huntsville will honor that commitment,” added the mayor. “Our area will partner with sites from across the country to make Space Command a center of excellence that will be revered on both the national and global stage. We have been good neighbors and partners with our friends in Colorado for many years and will continue our positive working relationships.”