The Pentagon

Colorado Springs would receive $146 million for military construction projects under a $705 billion budget proposal offered by the Pentagon on Monday.

Colorado Springs would get $146 million for military construction projects under a $705 billion budget proposal offered by the Pentagon on Monday.

Most of the money, $88 million, would pay off a space operations facility at Schriever Air Force Base, a project started with $60 million in the 2020 budget passed in December. In new construction deals, Fort Carson would get a $28 million gymnasium and a $15.6 million maintenance facility for the 10th Special Forces Group. Peterson would get a $15 million building for National Guard space troops.

“A strong military, fully equipped and integrated with our allies and all our instruments of power, enables our Nation to deter war, preserve peace, and, if necessary, defeat aggression against the United States and her people,” President Donald Trump wrote in a letter to lawmakers accompanying the budget.

The Pentagon described the budget as “flat,” but the proposal is actually $7 billion less than what Congress allocated for the military this year. Congress traditionally adds several billion in defense spending as committees mull the Pentagon proposal.

“We will keep our attention on long-term sustainable readiness,” said Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon undersecretary in charge of budgets.

The construction cash for Colorado Springs came despite a steep cut in military construction spending in the proposal, with the Pentagon’s building budget dropping by nearly $9 billion from 2020 levels.

“To live within the budget agreement levels … we have had to make some tough choices,” McCusker said in a Pentagon news conference.

But the budget brought cheers in Colorado Springs, where defense spending accounts for an estimated 40 percent of the local economy.

“If the proposed budget becomes law, that’s great news for Colorado Springs,” said Reggie Ash, who heads defense programs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC. “In addition to the $146 million in construction, those much needed projects help to solidify Colorado Springs as the epicenter of national security space and the clear choice to be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command.”

Colorado Springs is racing with California, Florida and Alabama to permanently house U.S. Space Command, which oversees all military missions in orbit. The ongoing investment at Schriever to house the command is seen as a good sign that the Pikes Peak region remains in the lead. The Pentagon hasn’t said when it will make the basing decision, which was expected last summer.

Colorado Springs businesses will also celebrate bigger paychecks for military consumers. Troops would get a 3 percent pay raise under the Pentagon plan, down slightly from the 3.1 percent increase troops received Jan. 1, but still the second-largest pay boosts the military has seen in the past decade.

The budget includes $18 billion for space programs, growing the new Space Force from 38 troops this year to more than 6,400 in 2021. Space spending is up $4 billion from 2020 levels, with $1.8 billion going to improvements to the Global Positioning System and $2.5 billion to a new series of satellites to track missile launches.

The budget would keep the Army at 485,000 soldiers. The Air Force would shrink by 6,400 troops, but those people would be sent to the new Space Force.

While President Donald Trump signed the Space Force into existence in December, the brand-new service still doesn’t merit its own budget.

The Space Force numbers are still melded with wider Air Force spending. The new service formed from what used to be Air Force Space Command, falls under the Department of the Air Force.

Budget documents show a big research and development budget for the space service, totaling $10.3 billion with $3.6 billion dedicated to classified programs within the so-called “black budget.”

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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