Letter to Hon. Frank Kendall, Secretary of the Air Force - Suspend Relocation of U.S. Space Command


Dear Secretary Kendall:

Congratulations on your confirmation to serve as the 26th Secretary of the United States Air
Force. On behalf of the people of Colorado, we thank you for your service and dedication to our

We write to request that you conduct an urgent and thorough review of the Trump
Administration's decision to move U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) from Colorado
Springs, Colorado, to Huntsville, Alabama. This move undermines our ability to respond to the
threats in space and is disruptive to the current mission. Additionally, significant evidence exists
that the former president's political considerations influenced the final decision to relocate
USSPACECOM to Redstone Arsenal. As such, we urge you to formally suspend any actions to
relocate the USSPACECOM headquarters until the Department of Defense Inspector General
(DoD IG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have completed their respective
investigations into the basing decision and you complete your review.

Our primary concerns with the methodology and potential implications of the decision are as

Threat to National Security and Mission Readiness: National security is the most important
consideration for any basing decision. As the epicenter of operational integration between
military and intelligence space assets, Colorado is well positioned to fulfill readiness demands.
Our state has the nation's largest aerospace economy on a per capita basis and several
universities with top-tier aerospace and engineering programs. Colorado Springs is home to the
National Space Defense Center (NSDC), U.S. Northern Command, North American Aerospace
Defense Command, Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and
communications infrastructure that is specifically designed to support the space mission. Ninety
miles north, Buckley Space Force Garrison hosts the National Reconnaissance Office's
Aerospace Data Facility-Colorado. These two communities alone host eight of the nine current
Space Force Deltas. The robust co-location of space equities in Colorado is not accidental. In
fact, the NSDC's recent budget justification to Congress underscores the premium that the Air
Force places upon the national security benefits of this proximity. We were thrilled to hear that
USSPACECOM has reached IOC in its current location. By equal measure, we are concerned
that moving USSPACECOM away from this unparalleled network of existing capabilities would
diminish our nation's ability to respond to a rapidly evolving threat landscape in space.

Opaque and Inconsistent Process: The Air Force began the selection process in 2019 and
announced six finalists in May: Peterson Air Force Base (AFB), Schriever AFB, Cheyenne
Mountain Air Force Station, and Buckley AFB in Colorado (all recently renamed as Space Force
installations); Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, and Vandenberg AFB in California. In August
2019, the Air Force named Peterson AFB the provisional headquarters until 2026, with the final
decision expected in October 2019. By the end of the year, however, the selection process
inexplicably slowed. In March 2020, the Air Force announced it would redo the process with
new methodology and criteria, which represented a significant departure from the standard Air
Force strategic basing process. The Air Force cited the creation of the Space Force as the
ostensible reason for disregarding months of work and starting anew. Certain press reports have
suggested, however, that this change occurred due to requests from various Members of
Congress who argued their state should have been considered. The new process lacked
transparency regarding proposed community incentives, as well as the mechanism by which the
point system correlated with the eventual +/- baseline evaluation scale. These ambiguities
continue to prevent clear, public evaluation of the scoring criteria. On January 13, 2021, with one
week left in President Trump's term, the Air Force announced the decision to relocate U.S.
Space Command to Huntsville. Before the Air Force even announced its decision, Alabama press
and politicians indicated prior knowledge of the Administration's intended move.

Fiscal and Personnel Costs: Despite requests from Congress, no official estimates have been
provided regarding the cost of relocating USSPACECOM from Colorado Springs to Huntsville.
Additionally, we are concerned that renovating the current location for long-term use was not
properly evaluated. Reports suggest that keeping USSPACECOM in Colorado Springs may save
taxpayers $1.2 billion and achieve full mission capability seven years earlier. Following the
announcement that USSPACECOM has reached IOC in its current facilities, a costly proposed
move that could jeopardize existing mission readiness becomes even more concerning. In
addition, past experience shows that moving USSPACECOM, which has a higher percentage of
civilians than military personnel, is likely to create unnecessary personnel attrition. For example,
roughly 80 percent of the civilian workforce left the Missile Defense Agency when it moved
from Virginia to Alabama. We cannot underestimate the value of the workforce to mission
readiness. Capitalizing on the existing infrastructure and personnel is a more cost-effective
basing solution and must be considered.

Serious questions remain about the cost of this decision and its effect on our ability to respond to
critical and escalating threats in space. Our nation cannot afford disruptions to the current
mission at this time, especially as China and Russia work to match or exceed U.S. capabilities in
space. In view of the irregularities of the selection process and the effects on national security,
we request you pause all actions related to moving USSPACECOM until thorough reviews by
the DoD IG and GAO are complete.

We would also be happy to meet with you to discuss this in further detail.