An effort to keep U.S. Space Command and its 1,400 troops is hitting high gear as local leaders file formal paperwork with the Pentagon, the Colorado Springs City Council was told Monday.
Colorado Springs, already the interim home of the command, will compete with cities nationwide as the Air Force reopens a process to determine where to base the headquarters that oversees military satellites and builds battle plans in case future wars reach orbit.
“We know we are the best place,” Council President Richard Skorman said. “We just have to get the powers that be to understand that.”
Overdue by a year, the decision on where to house the command that oversees space efforts of all military branches has been loaded with intrigue as suitors including Florida and Alabama have squeezed the Pentagon with congressional pressure.
The issue was muddied again in February as President Donald Trump told a crowd at a Colorado Springs campaign rally that he would personally decide the issue.
The latest twist came in May, with the Air Force awarding the command to Colorado Springs for at least six years, but opening a nationwide competition to see where it will be based after 2026.
“I remain confident for the community that we will win the permanent basing of U.S. Space Command,” Reggie Ash, who is leading efforts from the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC to fight for the command, told the council.
The new command, authorized in 2018, now operates at Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases and includes troops moved over from what used to be Air Force Space Command here. It is led here by Gen. Jay Raymond.
Ash said while the command’s 1,400 troops are reason enough to enter the fray, there will be other dividends if the unit sticks around.
“If the command stays here, our industry will grow,” Ash said, pointing to the region’s portfolio of aerospace and defense contractors.
But keeping the command means Colorado Springs must fit within tight categories outlined by the Pentagon. The city will be judged on issues including basing costs, how the military is accepted here, and how well the region treats military families.
On caring for military families, Ash said the region scored a big win at the recently concluded session of the Colorado General Assembly, which approved a measure expanding easy transfer of professional licenses for military spouses.
Colorado had long allowed transfer of many professional licenses for military spouses, but the latest measure, which Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign into law this week, includes every category of licenses offered by the state.
Ash said even boxing and mixed martial arts licenses are included in the measure.
The chamber and Mayor John Suthers expect to get grilled by Pentagon officials on the specifics of the Colorado Springs bid, with a questioning period that runs through October.
Once the questions are done, the Pentagon expects to winnow out a list of finalists, with a final decision due as soon as January.
Skorman said the council will cheer the effort on.
“This is going to be very every important to us,” he said.