Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper released the following statement after the senators met with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall to discuss the previous administration’s decision to move U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama:
“Space Command must remain in Colorado. The previous administration’s untested basing process for U.S. Space Command lacked transparency and ignored national security and cost concerns. Chief among these concerns is the ability to reach Full Operational Capability as soon as possible. Both the reports from the Department of Defense Inspector General and Government Accountability Office affirm our doubts about the accuracy and credibility of the decision-making process. We underscored those concerns with Secretary Kendall.
“Our national security must be the key consideration for selecting a permanent headquarters for U.S. Space Command. According to press reports, senior military leaders identified Peterson Space Force Base as their preferred choice for the headquarters because of its unique ability to reach Full Operational Capability faster than other candidate bases. As Vladimir Putin continues to wage war on Ukraine, and China expands its influence in space, we cannot afford to delay FOC at Space Command. Relocating the mission will only serve our adversaries.
“We urged Secretary Kendall to review the DOD IG and GAO findings, and make a decision that prioritizes our nation’s national security and mission in space. Any fair and well-informed process will conclude that Space Command should remain permanently based at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado.”
In 2019, Bennet and former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) led the Colorado delegation in writing to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and to Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan and Commander of U.S. Space Command General Jay Raymond to emphasize what Colorado offers to be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command. Bennet and Gardner also published an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette advocating for the basing decision. Following the White House’s official announcement of the creation of U.S. Space Command in August 2019, the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation reiterated their call to re-establish the headquarters in Colorado. In the original basing decision process, of the six possible locations that the Air Force named, four were in Colorado: Peterson Air Force Base (AFB), Schriever AFB, Buckley AFB, and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. In the fall of 2019, the Air Force named Peterson AFB the temporary home to U.S. Space Command.
In December 2019, Bennet met with Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and spoke with the Commander of U.S. Space Command General John W. Raymond to discuss the importance of a focus on national security space and to reiterate his support for basing Space Command in Colorado.
In May 2020, the Air Force announced a new basing decision process that evaluated self-nominating communities, like Aurora and Colorado Springs, on their ties to the military space mission, existing infrastructure capacity, community support, and cost to the Air Force. The Air Force also announced Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs would remain the provisional location of the command until 2026. Later in May, Bennet and Gardner wrote a letter to Colorado Governor Jared Polis calling for him to support military spouse licensure reciprocity in the state, which Polis then signed into law in July 2020. Spouse licensure reciprocity was a component of the Air Force’s evaluation of each nominating state’s support for military families.
Following passage of Colorado House Bill 20-1326, the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation, Polis, and Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Barrett to highlight the new Colorado law and further demonstrate that Colorado is the best state to serve as the permanent home of the U.S. Space Command.
In June 2020, Bennet welcomed Polis’ endorsement of the self-nomination of both the Aurora and Colorado Springs communities to compete to be the permanent home for U.S. Space Command. At the end of August 2020, the Aurora and Colorado Springs communities submitted their questionnaire responses to the Department of the Air Force completing the next step in the basing process.
In August 2020, Bennet visited Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB for an update on the U.S. Space Command mission and stand up. He also met with General Dickinson, who assumed command in August, and learned about advancements at the National Space Defense Center. In November 2020, the Air Force announced Colorado Springs as a finalist for the U.S. Space Command headquarters.
In December 2020, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper joined more than 600 state, federal, local, county and municipal officials, businesspeople, philanthropists, civic leaders, military officials, entrepreneurs and Coloradans from across the state in a letter urging Trump to keep the Command in the Centennial State.
In January 2021, following the relocation announcement, Bennet and Hickenlooper released a statement denouncing the decision and expressing concern that the Trump White House influenced the decision for political reasons.
In January 2021, Bennet and Hickenlooper also led a letter from the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation that urged President Joe Biden to suspend the Trump Administration's decision to move U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Huntsville, Alabama until the administration conducts a thorough review.
In May 2021, Bennet and U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, urged Biden to fully consider how the move may affect Intelligence Community dependencies and missions as well as the country’s ability to maintain superiority in space.
In June 2021, Bennet, Hickenlooper, and U.S. Representatives Jason Crow and Doug Lamborn, and a bipartisan majority of the Colorado Congressional Delegation invited Vice President Kamala Harris to visit Colorado and its thriving space industry.
In August 2021, Bennet expressed concerns over comments former President Trump made on a radio show suggesting his direct involvement in the relocation decision.
In August 2021, Bennet spoke at the Space Symposium’s Space Technology Hall of Fame Dinner, highlighting Colorado’s leadership in national security space and space innovation and pushing for a thorough review of the decision to relocate U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama.
In September 2021, Bennet, Hickenlooper, Crow, Lamborn and a group of bipartisan members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall urging him to suspend the Trump Administration's decision to move U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Huntsville, Alabama until the administration conducts a thorough review.
In January 2022, Bennet and Crow hosted Chairman Adam Schiff in Colorado for a briefing with Space Command, National Space Defense Center, and National Reconnaissance Office leadership.
Bennet and Warner met with leadership from the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community IC at Schriever Space Force Base and Buckley Space Force Base. The senators’ meetings highlighted the defense and intelligence elements in Colorado key to U.S. space missions, including U.S. Space Command, and underscored the central role Colorado maintains in both space and national security innovation.
In March 2022, Bennet and Hickenlooper announced support from thirteen leading aerospace companies and accelerators to keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado due in large part to the state’s commanding aerospace industry, which supports U.S. defense and space missions.
Recently, Bennet and Hickenlooper led a letter from the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation calling on President Joe Biden to ensure the U.S. Space Command basing decision takes into account national security and cost implications.