According to a new report from NBC News, unnamed officials close to the process say the White House is actively seeking to “reverse” the decision to locate U.S. Space Command’s headquarters to Alabama, despite overwhelming government vetting that solidified Redstone Arsenal as the best location.
“Biden administration officials have signaled privately to Pentagon officials and lawmakers that they’re looking to reverse the Alabama decision over concerns about operational disruptions that moving Spacecom’s headquarters, which is currently located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, could bring,” the network said.
As detailed in the article, the “disruptions” they’re referring to, are political: “This is all about abortion politics,” an unnamed official told NBC.
The Biden administration’s longstanding and ongoing attempt to stall the decision highlight the regrettable intersection of national security and partisan issues.
“Huntsville finished first in both the Air Force’s Evaluation Phase and Selection Phase, leaving no doubt that the Air Force’s decision to choose Redstone as the preferred basing location was correct purely on the merits,” U.S. Senator Katie Britt said recently. “That decision should remain in the Air Force’s hands and should not be politicized.”
The standoff between the White House and Sen. Tommy Tuberville over military nominations adds another layer of complexity to the situation.
While the article from NBC claims, “Administration officials said the push not to headquarter Spacecom in Huntsville has nothing to do with Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blocking of at least 234 of Biden’s military nominations in protest against the Pentagon’s abortion policy” — “He’s not helping,” another official said.
“The White House is ‘trying to delay as much as possible” before announcing a final decision, a third U.S. official said, because “they don’t want to aggravate Tuberville even more,'” the article says.
As the review continues, the Department of Defense and the Biden administration face mounting pressure to minimize disruption and prioritize national security over political considerations.
The Air Force’s selection of Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location was backed by extensive analysis, expert opinions, and comprehensive reports.
Current and former officials, including the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, the Secretary of the Air Force, and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all confirmed the integrity and fairness of the evaluation process.
The decision to relocate Space Command to Huntsville aligns with strategic and analytical considerations, as affirmed by the Biden administration.
As underscored by the NBC News report, “Colorado Springs was among the locations considered for a permanent Spacecom headquarters. But U.S. officials said Colorado did not come close to Alabama as a preferred location when the military conducted its search.”
That isn’t good enough for the Biden administration, however.
“After the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, the Defense Department has taken steps to ensure military treatment facilities continue to provide abortion services under its existing guidelines, including in states where abortions are now essentially outlawed with extremely limited exceptions,” the article says.
“The department also announced it would help cover travel costs for service members and their dependents who might have to cross state lines to receive abortion services.”
Rep. Dale Strong (R-Alabama), representing Redstone Arsenal and Huntsville, says he doesn’t remember that part of the review process.
“When the Air Force looked at what was in the best interest of national security, they chose Redstone Arsenal to house U.S. Space Command headquarters. Any deviation from that is a slight against those serving in uniform,” Strong said.
“I’ve seen all the reviews and reports on the basing process – but don’t remember access to late-term abortions being one of the 21 criteria used to evaluate the sites.”
Redstone touts a robust infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce that is already well-versed in military and aerospace operations. As well documented, with 72 federal agencies providing expertise in these domains, Redstone offers a battle-tested advantage for Space Command.
The veracity of the report concerns Rep. Robert Aderholt.
“This report, if true, is very concerning for national security,” he said. “This is the second article in two months discussing the possibility of Space Command remaining in Colorado. After the previous article, I questioned Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall directly during a hearing, and he assured us that the Space Command basing decision was his, and his alone. He told me that President Biden had put the decision squarely in his hands.
“I would like to know what has changed in the past two months.”
Huntsville is home to a thriving aerospace and defense industry, providing a pool of talented professionals who are ready to contribute to national security efforts.
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 for coverage of the 2023 legislative session.