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Strong: SPACECOM hearing set – ‘I wasn’t kidding’

HUNTSVILLE — Just a few weeks ago, Rep. Dale Strong sent House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers a letter requesting the committee bring Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Gen. James Dickinson, commander of Space Command, to testify “at the earliest opportunity” regarding the basing decision.  

“I wasn’t kidding when I said this is far from over,” Strong (R-Monrovia) said today. “I asked Chairman Rogers to hold a hearing, and now it’s time for these leaders to answer questions under oath.

“The findings of the robust basing process were completely ignored when the fifth best location in Colorado was chosen to host the Space Command headquarters.”

President Biden announced the decision to locate the headquarters in Colorado Springs one day before Congress left for August recess, despite all government reports indicating Redstone Arsenal as the definitive choice.

Now, Kendall, Dickinson, and Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman have been called to testify before HASC regarding the Space Command basing decision.  

“The way the Biden administration and Department of Defense leadership has handled the Space Command situation is something that should worry every state,” Strong said. “Allowing the Air Force to conduct an expensive and long basing process, only to undermine it when it’s decision time, threatens the credibility of the DOD and sets a dangerous precedent for all future military decisions.

“I’ve certainly got a lot of questions I’m ready to ask.”

Last week, speaking alongside fellow members of the Alabama congressional delegation, Rogers (R-Saks) said the legislative branch will “correct” Biden’s “politically motivated” choice. 

Rogers has warned he’s capable and willing to exercise subpoena power through the Department of Defense oversight authority vested in HASC. 

The Associated Press reported last month that Dickinson was instrumental in convincing Biden to locate the base in his home state of Colorado. 

U.S. Sen. Katie Britt has since raised concerns that Dickinson has profound conflicts of interest. 

“General Dickinson is a Colorado native,” Britt said in an interview last week. “He graduated from Colorado State (bachelor’s) and the Colorado School of Mines (master’s). And now we’ve uncovered that he bought a 20-acre farm and 4,000 square-foot dream house in – you guessed it – Colorado. 

“This $1.5 million property is just miles down the road from the interim Space Command headquarters in Colorado Springs – and he purchased it just a couple of months before recommending that Colorado be awarded the permanent headquarters.”

Since Biden’s strategically timed announcement one working day after Congress returned home for a month-long recess, Alabama’s congressional delegation has begun to express a vicious interest in recourse. 

Rep. Jerry Carl, member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he won’t fund project and operational costs for SPACECOM in Colorado Springs.

“From the appropriations standpoint, every dollar that they need, that I can cut off, will be cut off. If it’s my choice, they’re going to be walking,” Carl (R-Mobile) said. 

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), Alabama’s singular Democratic official in Congress, said Biden’s decision “bows to the whims of politics over merit.” 

Rogers is following up on a request made first last month, seeking documents and recorded testimony from Dickinson and Kendall. At that time, before an official call from Biden, he accused decision-makers of “deliberate, taxpayer-funded manipulation of a competitive selection process.” 

His deadline was Aug. 18. 

“We will get answers on President Biden’s political manipulation of the selection process,” Rogers said today.

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