The decision document briefed to President Donald Trump on Jan. 11, 2021, named Colorado Springs, Colorado, as the first choice for the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command, according to the final report of the Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General obtained by the Denver Gazette.
The decision to headquarter SPACECOM in Colorado Springs, the OIG draft explains, was based on the “best military judgment” of top military leaders, including SPACECOM leader Gen. James Dickinson, Space Force chief Gen. Jay Raymond, and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. John Hyten. Those names were redacted in the final version of the report, according to a report by Breaking Defense.
The report’s recommendations potentially open the door to a reexamination of the basing review for SPACECOM.
Trump overrode the military leaders’ recommendation and picked Huntsville, Alabama, as the headquarters instead.
Though Huntsville had ranked high in the metrics evaluated for the basing decision, the recommendation from the Pentagon was that Colorado Springs instead remain SPACECOM’s home, thanks to the interdiction of the senior military officers, according to Breaking Defense’s report.
The critical concern of senior military officers was that the process failed to take into account the need to bring SPACECOM rapidly up to full operational capability. Keeping SPACECOM at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado could “accelerate” that process, while moving it would require new facilities, the report found.
Senior military space officers had problems with Colorado Springs’s low ranking in the metrics used in the initial review of sites, according to the OIG report.
“The DOD IG conclusion that Huntsville was a reasonable decision does not mean they concluded it was the RIGHT decision,” a senior source familiar with the report said. “Based on the flawed process, Redstone is validated as a ‘reasonable’ choice by the DOD IG. It does not say it was the right decision, just that based on the process that was used, it is a logical conclusion.
“What is clear from this report [is] that the Air Force’s best military advice resulted in bringing Colorado Springs forward as the preferred location in their meeting with the president and that this was reflected in the decision matrix provided at that time,” the source added. “Following this meeting, however, the decision matrix was revised from its original recommendation of Colorado Springs to a new decision of Huntsville.”