Central Coast’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in the Running to House U.S. Space Command
The Air Force has identified the six military bases that could house the military’s newest combatant command, US Space Command, according to an Air Force memorandum obtained by CNN.
Four of the proposed locations are located in Colorado. The other two locations are in Alabama and California.
The absence of any Florida-based installations from the finalist list is bound to disappoint members of Congress who publicly advocated for the command to be housed in the Sunshine State.
In December, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a letter to then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis calling for it to be established in Florida and last month during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee Republican Rep. Michael Waltz urged acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan to locate it there.
Following Waltz’ comments, Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado joked: “With all due respect to my colleague from Florida, Colorado is a mile closer to space than Florida is and a great place for space assets.”
The six finalist locations are Buckley Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson Air Force Base, and Schriever Air Force Base — all in Colorado — as well as the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The memo, which has been approved by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, also says that “the projected manpower” for United States Space Command is 1,450 personnel, including 390 military officers, 183 enlisted personnel, 827 civilians and 50 contractors.
About 350 of those personnel will be drawn from the existing Joint Force Space Component Command, which is currently part of US Strategic Command.
Trump nominated Air Force Gen. John Raymond, who currently leads Air Force Space Command, to head the new Space Command last month.
The Air Force’s analysis used a set of criteria to determine where the command was to be housed, which included cost, co-location with an existing military organization that will become a component of the future Space Command, access to a C-17 aircraft capable airfield, communications connectivity, administrative buildings and available base support.
“Placing United States Space Command on a Department of Defense space installation will align the command with critical space force expertise and provide resident military, civilian, and commercial space manpower for United States Space Command recruiting and retention,” a document attached to the memo said.
The memo also identifies the existing military component organizations that will be assigned to US Space Command: the Joint Navigation Warfare Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, the Missile Warning Center at Cheyenne Mountain, the Joint Overhead Persistent Infrared Center at Buckley Air Force Base, the National Space Defense Center at Schriever, the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone Arsenal and US Fleet Cyber command/United States Tenth Fleet at Fort Meade.
Shanahan has said that the establishment of Space Command should be given priority with regards to Trump’s proposed Space Force, calling the command “the easiest and most impactful” of the various aspects of the Force.
Trump directed the establishment of Space Command in December, making it only the 11th unified combatant command.
Unlike the establishment of a separate service, the command required less congressional involvement and is seen as less controversial.
The proposed Space Force will fall under the Air Force and have a relationship akin to the US Marine Corps’ relationship to the Department of the Navy.
The Space Force’s creation is part of the Trump administration’s 2020 defense budget request to Congress.
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing next week on the Space Force featuring Shanahan and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.