Senators Urge Kendall to Consider Critical National Security and Cost Factors Prior to Final Basing Decision
Washington, D.C. — Today, in a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet reiterated the need for the Air Force to consider critical national security and cost factors prior to a final basing decision for the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command.
“The Air Force must assure Congress and the American people that the final decision is rooted in defensible evidence. A final decision must be based on the imperative to face rapidly evolving threats in space, especially in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s expansion of regional influence. We cannot afford to delay Space Command’s pathway toward reaching Full Operational Capability,” wrote Hickenlooper and Bennet.
As the Air Force conducts a review of Space Command’s pathway to Full Operational Capability (FOC), as recommended by the Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) report, the senators urge the Air Force to examine previously neglected factors that would influence reaching FOC, including the cost of renovating existing infrastructure at Peterson and the cost of workforce relocation.
In their letter, the senators highlight key findings from the DOD IG and Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports. Most notably, the reports make clear that senior military leadership recommended Peterson as the preferred choice for Space Command due to its ability to reach FOC faster than any other candidate location. Hickenlooper and Bennet also expressed their concern that Peterson’s ability to quickly reach FOC was not given full consideration in the basing process.
The text of the letter is available HERE and below:
Dear Secretary Kendall:
We write to reiterate our concerns about the ongoing U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) basing process and urge you to consider critical cost and national security factors as you review Space Command’s pathway to Full Operational Capability (FOC), prior to the issuance of a final decision.
The Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports make clear that senior military leadership recommended Peterson Space Force Base (SFB) in Colorado Springs as the preferred choice for USSPACECOM’s permanent headquarters due to its unique ability to achieve FOC faster than any other candidate location.
The DOD IG directed the Secretary of Defense to review these well-documented concerns pertaining to FOC. It is our understanding that Secretary Austin has tasked the Department of the Air Force to conduct such a review.
We urge you to address the following elements as you conduct your analysis of Full Operational Capability at Space Command:
- Renovation of Building 1. As the DOD IG and GAO reports highlight, senior military leaders proposed the renovation of Building 1 at Peterson SFB as the best option to reach FOC in the fastest and most cost-effective manner relative to any other candidate location. Rather than considering a renovation scenario, however, the previous administration rushed an already flawed process and made a decision with incomplete information. Any evaluation of FOC should account for the prospect of renovating the facilities in which USSPACECOM already functions at Initial Operational Capability.
- Cost Estimates. Your evaluation should also account for the national security cost, with respect to both time and money, of forgoing the fastest possible pathway to achieving FOC. In a 2021 position paper drafted by Retired Air Force General Ed Eberhart and Retired Army Lieutenant General Ed Anderson, the authors estimate that “allowing Space Command to remain in Building 1 saves taxpayers $1.24 billion dollars” and provides a pathway “to reach full mission capability up to 7 years faster.” Generals Eberhart and Anderson also raise the concern of the cost of workforce attrition, which the GAO report identified as one of the “significant shortfalls in transparency and credibility” of the data considered in the revised basing process. We urge you to provide a full assessment of the financial implications of each scenario under consideration—including renovating Building 1 at Peterson SFB. The assessment should address the cost of construction for new infrastructure, including communications systems, and indirect costs such as workforce relocation and training.
We request a briefing on your review prior to any final decision to understand how the Air Force has accounted for critical national security and cost implications.
The Air Force must assure Congress and the American people that the final decision is rooted in defensible evidence. A final decision must be based on the imperative to face rapidly evolving threats in space, especially in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s expansion of regional influence. We cannot afford to delay Space Command’s pathway toward reaching Full Operational Capability.