HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The announcement that the Air Force selected Huntsville as the preferred permanent location for Space Command headquarters caused quite a bit of cheering locally and some controversy. The temporary location for the headquarters is in Colorado.
Lawmakers from that state have raised concerns about the selection process and questioned the motives behind choosing Huntsville. Last week, news came out about an internal investigation into the Air Force’s selection process.
The investigation is being conducted by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General. In a release dated Friday, they say they will begin the investigation this month.
The timeline for the announcement to select Huntsville has raised some eyebrows. It came a week before President Joe Biden’s inauguration and one day after former Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett announced her retirement.
Colorado elected officials asked the Biden administration to review the selection process. Congressman Doug Lamborn (R- Colorado) released a statement on his website calling the selection process “fundamentally flawed”. He also promised to ensure political bias was not a factor in the decision.
The inspector general will evaluate whether the Air Force complied with DOD and Air Force policies during the location selection process; used objective and relevant scoring factors to rank the six candidate locations; and calculated the cost and other scoring factors accurately and consistently among the six candidate locations.
Congressman Mo Brooks expressed his confidence in the Air Force’s decision. He sent a statement to News 19.
“If the investigation honestly portrays the Tennessee Valley’s strengths, Redstone Arsenal will do just fine. My only reservation is whether hyper-partisanship will blind the investigation to the merits of the Air Force’s decision. If hyper-partisanship rules as it did under the Obama-Biden Administration, Alabama and other red states will not fare well on Space Command H.Q. or any other major federal issue.”Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Alabama)
News 19 contacted the offices for North Alabama’s Congressional delegation.
The office of Senator Shelby sent a statement from his press secretary saying the Shelby welcomes an evaluation to ensure that Huntsville was selected for the right reasons and in the interest of national security, as he would any other decision by the Department.
A spokesperson for Senator Tommy Tuberville said the Senator is confident the inspector general’s report will affirm that this decision was merit based and with the strategic interests of the United States top of mind.
Congressman Robert Aderholt released a statement as well.
“I believe the Air Force chose Huntsville completely on the merits. It’s my understanding Huntsville and North Alabama perfectly met all of the criteria the Air Force was looking for. What some folks outside of Alabama don’t understand is how many space experts we have here. When you add that to the other factors, the Air Force has good reason to prefer Redstone. I welcome this investigation from the DOD because I believe it will confirm this choice and confirm what all of us who live here already know about this area.”Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama)
Governor Kay Ivey says choosing Redstone Arsenal was the right decision and she too welcomes the review. She sent a statement saying in part, “Our state was chosen based on merit, and an independent review of a decision of this magnitude will confirm this.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle echoed that sentiment in a statement sent to News 19.
““Huntsville is proud of Redstone’s selection as the nation’s top site for the U.S Space Command, and we welcome any inquiries into the process. The Air Force’s exhaustive two-year site review meticulously analyzed every conceivable factor in its decision to choose the Redstone region on its merits. Huntsville has a highly successful track record in locating commands here, and any visitor to our city knows the strength and depth of our space work and space legacy. When you factor in the capabilities of the Redstone Federal campus, our many innovative businesses (both large and small), the low cost of doing business, high quality of life, strong education system and skilled workforce, it’s easy to see why Huntsville is the number one choice time and time again.”Mayor Tommy Battle, City of Huntsville
Findings from the inspector general investigation are not binding. After the investigation is complete, recommendations and findings will be given to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.