President Donald Trump dealt the country another parting blow Wednesday by ordering the relocation of Space Command from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Ala. Trump did this to benefit himself politically with no regard for our country’s sovereignty and ability to defend against China, North Korea, and other hostile countries trying to dominate space militarily.
More than any boorish tweet or his claims of election fraud, this action reveals Trump as a man who places himself ahead of his country. Never has this been more clear.
We know of no qualified military space expert, including an array of retired Air Force generals, who think Space Command should leave Colorado Springs. The Pentagon’s team of experts who studied the future of Space Command recommended keeping it in the Springs for a broad array of cultural, economic and strategic reasons.
Trump’s decision came after Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett reportedly traveled to Washington this week to advise Trump of the Pentagon’s decision. Sources tell Gazette Senior Military Editor Tom Roeder the commander in chief summarily overruled the Pentagon’s decision that favored Colorado.
The Gazette’s editorial board feared this outcome and expressed that concern in a Sept. 16 editorial. Trump had a close relationship with then-Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Gardner spent multiple meetings persuading Trump to keep Space Command here. Trump, we believed, would retaliate against Colorado if voters ousted Gardner. In addition to replacing Gardner, Colorado trounced Trump in his reelection bid.
“The election of former Gov. John Hickenlooper (to replace Gardner) could jeopardize the region’s otherwise likely prospect of keeping the headquarters of Space Command,” we wrote.
Politically, more is in play than petty presidential spite. With Trump’s latest impeachment in the House, he must consider who has his back when it goes to the Senate. Colorado’s two senators are anti-Trump Democrats, along with four of the state’s seven House members. The state is solidly blue, and Trump has nothing to gain politically by keeping Space Command here.
Politically, Trump has everything to gain from the otherwise nonsensical move of uprooting this critical command. Alabama has two Republican senators. One of them — retired Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville — is a pro-Trump populist who knocked off then-incumbent Democrat Doug Jones in November. Republicans hold six of Alabama’s seven House districts.
When impeachment heads to the Senate for a possible conviction, Alabama’s delegation has much to offer Trump. Colorado, by contrast, would do nothing to help him.
The Pentagon recommended Colorado Springs because no other community vying for Space Command came close to competing on a basis of national defense considerations.
This is the home of the Air Force Academy, the institution most prepared to immediately and efficiently meet Space Command’s unique higher educational needs. This is home to Air Force Space Command, Northcom, NORAD, the Space Foundation, a robust aerospace and defense contracting industry, and dozens of other institutions geared toward supporting the mission of Space Command. It is the top draw for millennials among major American cities, easing the task of attracting the best and brightest to serve Space Command.
No community in the country offers anything approaching the ready-made high-tech space culture of Colorado Springs.
The proposed move will, beyond debate, slow and interfere with the ability of Space Command to move our country forward in the speed needed to defend against foreign foes. Whether most Americans know it, one properly detonated EMP could wipe out our communication infrastructure. It would bring our country to its knees and only a dominant, state-of-the-art military space program can stop it in time.
Moving Space Command, to give Trump political cover, will come at a cost of billions to indebted American taxpayers as they rebuild assets on the ground in Colorado. It will cost this state more than 1,400 high-wage jobs and billions to the state’s economy over time. It will adversely affect Colorado’s housing market, the homebuilding industry, and more. It is, on multiple fronts, a statewide disaster.
It is time for Colorado’s congressional delegation, Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, Secretary Barrett, an array of military brass, and others to begin a new mission. They must persuade President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office Jan. 20, to overturn this poor decision and do what the Pentagon wants.
By keeping Space Command where it belongs, Biden would prove himself a man concerned about our national defense. He would distinguish himself as a leader ready and willing to serve as our new commander in chief.
Politics aside, Americans should hope and pray for our next president’s success. Undoing this dangerous decision — a selfish parting shot by Trump — would be a great start.
The Gazette Editorial Board