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Battle: Trust in Space Command process broken

HUNTSVILLE — Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle threw his support Thursday behind a congressional investigation of the Space Command relocation decision.

House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers announced Thursday the committee is launching an investigation into the continued delays in the selection of a permanent base for the U.S. Space Command Headquarters.

Mayor Tommy Battle (City of Huntsville/Facebook)

The investigation comes after the state’s bipartisan congressional delegation met with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and learned of “fundamental changes being made to SPACECOM’s mission requirements, headquarters requirements, and related expenditures at temporary SPACECOM facilities …,” Rogers said.

Battle said the findings of the meeting were concerning to him.

“It is obvious the rules of the selection process are being changed, even on a daily basis,” he said in a statement to 256 Today. “As a nation, we have learned to trust the process; changing the rules breaks that trust.  

“We support a full investigation into what is an attempt to undermine an ethical and objective selection process.”

Related: Rep. Jerry Carl said Trump was talked out of moving Space Command to Florida.

Rogers said the investigation was launched because he is concerned the delays are politically motivated and threaten national security.

“The fact is, the Air Force already made the correct decision well over two years ago.” he said. “That decision was affirmed by the GAO and the DoD Inspector General over a year ago.

“This decision was based on multiple factors, and Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama was the clear winner in the Evaluation and Selection phase. I am deeply concerned that the continued delays in making this move final are politically motivated and damaging to our national security.”

U.S. Rep. Dale Strong and Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the Armed Services Committee

The probe comes at the request of U.S. Rep. Dale W. Strong.

“After a delegation meeting with the Secretary of the Air Force, I had no choice but to request that House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Mike Rogers, open a formal investigation into the Biden Administration’s failure to announce a permanent location for U.S. Space Command Headquarters,” said Strong (R-Huntsville). “The Administration’s delay risks politicizing a process which must remain fact-based. Injecting politics into America’s basing decisions serves to do unprecedented harm to our national security. American men and women in uniform must be given the very best, not the third or fourth choice.”

The investigation comes about after Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall met with members of the Alabama congressional delegation about Space Command recently.

In a letter to Kendall and Space Command Gen. James Dickinson, Rogers wrote:

“I was alarmed by several facts presented during Secretary Kendall’s recent meeting with the bipartisan membership of the Alabama delegation regarding the location of U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) headquarters. Secretary Kendall has uncovered ‘fundamental changes’ being made to SPACECOM’s mission requirements, headquarters requirements, and related expenditures at temporary SPACECOM facilities which are apparently divorced from DOD’s stated policy.

“During our meeting, Secretary Kendall said that he did not direct SPACECOM to make
‘fundamental’ changes to SPACECOM’s mission and headquarters requirements and was unaware of anyone else in the Department of Defense having done so. Yet such changes have occurred.

“These apparently sweeping unilateral changes to policies and posture seem to have been made with zero civilian oversight at the Department of Defense. Secretary Kendall also stated that he was unaware who, if anyone, at the Department of Defense approved expenditures of taxpayer funds to unilaterally change the mission or headquarters requirements of SPACECOM.

“Secretary Kendall informed the delegation that he launched his own investigation into these irregularities. The Committee on Armed Services will also undertake its own investigation into this matter.”

Rogers also called for the command to “cease and desist from any action” using taxpayer funds in a “scheme” to change the mission or requirements without congressional approval.

“Continued changes will certainly impede this on-going investigation,” he wrote.

Rogers gave a deadline of June 8 for Kendall and Dickinson to deliver pertinent documents “to the Committee, in their complete and unredacted form.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn), who has been questioning officials and the delays on the Senate side, applauded Rogers.

“Multiple studies and reports have confirmed what we have already known: Huntsville is THE best place for SPACECOM,” he said. “But it seems DoD leaders are letting partisan politics undermine our military readiness and national security.
“Appreciate the leadership of Congressman Rogers to hold leaders accountable and find out why this decision is not being followed through.”

Strong thanked Rogers for undertaking the investigation.

“Redstone Arsenal was chosen as the preferred location after a years-long process,” he said. “The decision was later confirmed not just once, but twice with the results of the Government Accountability Office and Department of Defense Inspector General investigations.

“It is plain and simple: Redstone Arsenal is the best possible location to host U.S. Space Command headquarters. The Air Force’s basing process established this, and it was confirmed.”

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