In 1947, congressional and military leaders recognized that the air domain would continue to grow in strategic importance, and they separated the Air Force from the Army Air Corps. In further recognition of the growing importance of air power, the Air Force Academy was then founded in Colorado Springs in 1954. Colorado Springs, much smaller at the time, was a long shot to claim host to a service academy. However, the prospect of nuclear war gave the location in the center of the country a security advantage, and now the story of Colorado Springs as a leading defense community is part of history.
As much as times have changed, many things remain the same. The Cold War is over, but China and Russia still threaten. Those who are forward thinking and defense minded have been asking new questions about another recently militarized domain: space. Colorado Springs has become a premier community for America’s space warfighters and for defense innovation. It is the national epicenter for our national security interest in space. Our community will become an even more critical leader in national defense space if Colorado Springs becomes home to the new headquarters of Space Command.
The Department of Defense’s future focus for space must continue to revolve around Colorado Springs — the heart of space war fighting. I have been supporting Department of Defense efforts to protect and enhance our role in space for years. For instance, I inserted language into the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that ensured our major defense assets would stay in our community. This relationship has been mutually beneficial for our space defense enterprise and the 5th Congressional District.
Last September, after the Trump administration embraced the idea of creating a Space Force, I wrote a letter to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan emphasizing that our community is the natural choice for U.S. Space Command headquarters. President Donald Trump has authorized the reestablishment of U.S. Space Command. With this in mind, I began a campaign in conjunction with community leaders to ensure that the administration and the secretaries of defense and the Air Force understood how critical it is to our national security that Space Command be established in Colorado Springs.
Since the announcement of the intention to reestablish Space Command, I have met with the secretary of the Air Force on three occasions. In December, I published an op-ed in SpaceNews highlighting the defense and space footprint in Colorado Springs, along with another in April making the case that Colorado Springs is the only serious option for a reestablished Space Command. In March, the Colorado congressional delegation, along with Gov. Jared Polis, jointly expressed this in a letter that I helped organize to the secretary of Defense.
During the Space Symposium, I was pleased to join city leadership in an open letter to the DOD expressing the same position. To show DOD Colorado’s support and willingness to improve infrastructure, I also have been working with Gov. Polis to gain additional funding for improving Colorado 94 to better accommodate our war fighters at Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases.
Our community is uniquely positioned to support our space warriors. Our nation’s space war fighters, the great majority of whom are stationed in Colorado Springs, will benefit greatly from the space assets here. The strong quality of life and the community support for our military is icing on the cake.
While the Pentagon debates the merits of various locations around the country, we know that our nation’s foreign competitors are pursuing their programs of space capability improvement. Colorado Springs offers the most seamless and most cost-effective transition from our current space programs and assets to a unified space command structure of any place in the U.S. Our community offers the fastest and the best path to continued excellence in space, the ultimate frontier.
Doug Lamborn is the congressional representative from Colorado’s 5th District.