On Wednesday, January 13, it was reported that the U.S. Air Force has chosen Huntsville, Alabama, over five other states including New Mexico to locate the new U.S. Space Command. The official Air Force announcement said Huntsville compared more favorably against the other states in providing a large qualified workforce, quality schools, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial recurring costs. Alabama also offered a facility to support the Space Command headquarters at no cost while a permanent facility is constructed.
Links to news coverage is here:
According to a January 16 news report, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett met with Trump at the White House during the week of January 11, perhaps before Trump was impeached a 2nd time, and informed him that the Air Force had chosen Colorado Springs. The paper, citing Pentagon insiders and lawmakers, said that Trump ignored the pick and instead chose Alabama.
New Mexico’s entire congressional delegation as well as New Mexico Governor Michell Lujan Grisham and Mayor Tim Keller lobbied heavily to locate the Space Command in Albuquerque. On December 20, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller along with the Kirtland Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and expand Kirtland Air Force , made a virtual presentation to Pentagon Officials to locate the new U.S. Space Command in Albuquerque. An on-site tour of Kirtland Air Force Base, where the Space Command would be located if it came to New Mexico was given to the pentagon officials.
Albuquerque’s Kirkland Air Force base competed against 5 other Air Force bases located in the states of Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Alabama and Texas. The other finalists were
1. Offutt AFB (NE), previously housed the strategic Air Force Command headquarters.
2. Patrick AFB (FL) at Cape Canaveral in Florida, which has 50 years of infrastructure and space-related history.
3. Peterson AFB (CO), the Space Command’s current temporary headquarters.
4. Port San Antonio (TX) which at one time housed three Air Force bases in and around it.
5. Redstone Army Airfield (AL) which also has extensive military infrastructure and a strong congressional delegation to lobby.
NEW MEXICO’S ELECTED OFFICIALS REACT
It was acting Air Force Undersecretary Shon J. Manasco in a phone call who broke the bad news to New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich. Senator Heinrich for his part said he was very disturbed by the Air Force process that resulted in choosing Alabama. According to Heinrich, it seemed like it was rushed to reach a final decision before President Donald Trump leaves office on January 20 and he said:
“I’m utterly disappointed with this process. … I don’t think it [Huntsville] was a logical place to choose for the Space Command. It seems clear to me that this was the least-deliberative Air Force basing decision I’ve been a part of. … In just one month and a half, it went from feeling like a methodical, typical Air Force decision to suddenly a very rushed process to get to a decision before the end of the current administration. … [It] seems extremely rushed to have an on-site visit last Thursday and on [the following] Wednesday call me with a decision already made. … That’s very concerning. … It all needs to be completely transparent. … If the facts that led to the conclusion of this process are more political than deliberative, then maybe it would be appropriate to reopen it. I can’t promise that, but if the Air Force doesn’t have the documentation to support its decision, then I would urge the new administration to reevaluate it. … Regardless of the final basing decision for the headquarters of Space Command, I remain committed to supporting all of the core military space assets, missions, and organizations already based in New Mexico. Our state remains the nation’s premier location to build and grow organizations focused on space innovation.”
Senator Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., had this to say in a statement:
“When the Trump administration announced its criteria for the new home of U.S. Space Command, it promised a ‘comprehensive and transparent’ screening process. … Today’s selection raises questions about the integrity of that process, questions I intend to bring up with the incoming administration. New Mexico offered an unparalleled package: A vibrant space industry, key military installations, two national labs, protected airspace, and a highly-qualified workforce. The Air Force owes the residents of New Mexico and other finalist cities a full and detailed accounting of how it reached its decision.”
Governor Lujan Grisham for her part said she supports the efforts to appeal the decision and said:
“This represented an enormous potential opportunity for our state, and I’m certainly disappointed with the decision. … I would like a complete assessment from federal decision-makers about why New Mexico, with all of the incredible resources we bring to the table, was not chosen, and I look forward to working with our congressional delegation to explore whether and to what degree we can still secure significant Space Command assets for New Mexico.”
WHAT KIRTLAND HAS TO OFFER
There are a number of assets and services offered by Kirtland Air Force Base. Kirtland already houses six Air Force commands. Those commands include the global strike, air combat, materiel, education and training, special operations, and space system commands. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Missile Defense Agency, National Assessment Group and Joint Navigation Warfare Center are also located at Kirtland.
Many of the agencies managed by those commands are directly focused on space. That includes the Space Rapid Capabilities Office and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate, which are at the forefront of developing, rapidly deploying and operating defense-related space systems.
There are others that directly contribute to space technology and management, including AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate, which develops laser systems, high power electromagnetics and electro-optics that are critical to space systems. AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate also operates the Star Fire Optical Range at Kirtland which is a center of excellence for space domain awareness that offers comprehensive ground-based monitoring of space assets and activity.
There are other research assets at the base, including Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the National Nuclear Security Administration that oversees Sandia Labs and LANL operations. And DOE’s Office of Secure Transport for nuclear.
There is no doubt that New Mexico is a world-class research center with two DOE labs, the AFRL, and three research universities. According to the New Mexico Partnership, the city and state has a highly skilled workforce in place consisting of nearly 36,000 people employed in science, computer, math and engineering. The proportion of local workforce employed in science jobs is 1.7 times higher than in the U.S. overall, and employment in engineering specifically is 1.5 times higher.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
In the 2020 Presidential election Der Führer Trump won Alabama carrying the State 62.2% to Biden’s 36.7% with all 9 electoral college votes going to Trump. In New Mexico, Joe Biden won the state with 54.4% of the vote to Trump’s 43.5% of the vote with New Mexico’s 5 electoral college votes going to Biden.
It is very difficult to accept the finding that Redstone Army Airfield in Huntsville, Alabama, had more to offer than Kirtland Airforce Base. New Mexico elected officials are absolutely right to think that the selection of Alabama over New Mexico was Trumpian Politics at its worst and a vindictive act. They would be fools to think otherwise.
Then Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and then Congresswoman Debra Haaland and Xochitle Torrez Small voted to impeach Der Führer Trump the first time. New Mexico United Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich also voted to convict Der Führer Trump the first time. All five votes were the moral thing to do and they should have absolutely no regrets.
Our congressional delegation needs to start immediately to find out exactly what happened. Heinrich said his staff will “dig through” the process and all the documentation to review how the decision was made. If the evidence doesn’t justify the site selection, he will urge President Joe Biden’s administration, to reevaluate the Air Force process and decision. Asking President Biden to issue an executive order to suspend the project for now should be the first order of business.
If we have learned anything about Der Führer Trump and the people he surrounds himself with in the last few days of his crumbling Presidency, it’s that he and his supporters are pathetic and vindictive as they come. Führer Trump is a little man that had no business being elected President in the first place. Führer Trump is now spending more time on the golf course hitting golf balls out of a different kind of “bunker” than the Führer who died in a bunker at the end of World War II.