Biden Made the Final Call on Space Command Basing. Was the Air Force Out of the Loop?
2023/08/02

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President Joe Biden has made the decision to locate the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, breaking with the previous statements that the choice would remain with the Air Force Secretary, Frank Kendall. The decision ends a years-long political battle between Alabama and Colorado, with Alabama losing out on the command and its associated federal funding. The move angered the Alabama delegation, including Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who had used his position as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee to push for a decision favoring Alabama.

Secretary Kendall expressed support for Biden's decision and stated that the Department of the Air Force would work expeditiously to implement it. It is unclear whether Kendall was consulted prior to the announcement. Military experts noted that it is unusual for the president to make basing decisions, but as the commander-in-chief, he has the authority to do so. The fight over the basing decision had become politicized, with Republicans and Democrats, as well as former President Donald Trump and President Biden, involved in the debate. Moving the Space Command to Alabama had raised concerns about restrictions on abortion access in the state and its impact on service members' quality of life.

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The Air Force denied these concerns, stating that reproductive health care and state laws regarding LGBTQ+ rights were not considered in the basing process. Alabama lawmakers criticized Biden's decision as politically motivated, while Colorado Democrats praised it. The Pentagon Press Secretary stated that Biden made the decision after consultation with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and senior military leaders, and it was based on readiness considerations. The decision by the president and the political maneuvering surrounding it have raised concerns about the military being used as a bargaining chip for political and partisan issues.

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