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Senate Intelligence chairman wants Biden to review US Space Command move

Senate Intelligence chairman wants Biden to review US Space Command move
© Reuters/Pool

The head of the Senate’s Intelligence Committee has joined a group of lawmakers calling on the Biden administration to review a Trump-era decision that moves U.S. Space Command headquarters from Colorado to Alabama.

In a letter released Tuesday, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress MORE (D-Va.) and committee member Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetPast criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Hillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack Senators introducing B bill to help narrow digital divide MORE (D-Colo.) pressed President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE to review the move over concerns of negative impacts to the intelligence community.

The two say they’re worried that the Trump administration “did not take into account how such a move may affect Intelligence Community dependencies and missions,” which work in tandem with Pentagon efforts to protect U.S. satellites and other interests from threats. 

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The Air Force decided in mid-January to move the permanent headquarters of Space Command from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs to the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. 

The move came as a shock as Colorado Springs was seen as the front-runner to host the new headquarters given Space Command’s predecessor, Air Force Space Command, was headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base.

Colorado lawmakers have since banded together to reverse the impending shift, arguing that the change was last minute, influenced by politics and simply didn’t make sense due to Colorado’s already established space installations.

The state’s entire congressional delegation sent letters to Biden as well as Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' Overnight Defense: Biden participates in NATO summit | White House backs 2002 AUMF repeal | Top general says no plans for airstrikes to help Afghan forces after withdrawal MORE, urging them to review the decision before moving forward.

Warner and Bennet further claim that U.S. intelligence agencies, which were not considered in the basing decision, will also be affected by the move.

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They note that “important investments have been made in recent years” to enhance collaboration and work between the military and intelligence agencies, including at the National Space Defense Center (NSDC) at Schriever Air Force Base, which helps the Defense Department defend U.S. satellites.

“It is critical that any decision to move Space Command from its current location take into account the potential effects of such a move on the operational integration between the [intelligence community] and DoD space communities at NSDC and at other joint sites in Colorado,” the lawmakers wrote.

Warner and Bennet also argue that spending valuable time and money on a move could be detrimental for the command “in the face of an evolving threat landscape.”

They point to a Congressional Budget Office estimate in 2019 that put construction costs for a new command headquarters at as high as $1.1 billion. And with many defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors already working on space programs in Colorado, it’s uncertain whether they would move to Alabama, they note.

“Space is a critical national security issue, and we cannot squander time, talent, or money on unnecessary expenditures or delays,” Warner and Bennet write.

It’s yet to be seen if pressure on the Biden administration will pay off, as the president has not publicly commented on the Space Command move.

But the efforts have prompted the Government Accountability Office to open a review into the Trump administration’s decision. The Pentagon's inspector general is also looking into the issue.