US Space Command Pronounced Fully Operational, But There's Still One Big Problem


U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) was pronounced fully operational on Friday, although the White House and Congress continue to tussle over the location of the command’s final headquarters.

SPACECOM employs joint military forces, including from the Space Force, to accomplish its missions, according to its website.

The organization achieved preliminary operational capability in 2021, and commander U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson has repeatedly stated that it would not be fully operational until a permanent headquarters was established, Defense News reported.

However, after years of battling between two main states — Colorado and Alabama — a series of watchdog reviews, and a last-minute reversal from the Biden administration that Republicans said was linked to abortion politics, the command still doesn’t have a home.

“As the command has matured, challenges to a safe, secure, stable, and sustainable space domain have significantly increased,” Dickinson said in a news release.

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“Both the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation are fielding counter space capabilities designed to hold U.S., Allied and partner space assets at risk. And North Korea and Iran are in the early stages of developing their space enterprise.”

A fully operational designation means SPACECOM is able to fully carry out its mission, allowing U.S. military branches and other combatant commands to take advantage of the space-based capabilities SPACECOM manages.

Criteria for becoming operational include demonstrating an ability to carry out a full spectrum of operations and maintaining the necessary infrastructure and workforce to support those duties, according to Defense News.

Former President Donald Trump reinstated SPACECOM more than four years ago with a provisional headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Just before leaving office, his Air Force secretary designated Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred host for the command.

Colorado lawmakers criticized the process leading up to the decision as “fundamentally flawed.” Two separate watchdog investigations found that the Air Force followed the law in making its final decision.

The Department of Defense subsequently restarted the selection process, and Biden announced in July the headquarters would remain in Colorado.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers questioned Biden’s intervention in the final decision, which was reportedly made on Dickinson’s advice.

Congress’ defense policy bill for fiscal year 2024, which awaits the president’s signature, would freeze funding for the Colorado Springs headquarters until government watchdogs complete further reviews.

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Republican Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn called Friday’s announcement “the pinnacle of more than four years of hard work by General Raymond, General Dickinson, and our Guardians” in a statement.

“This achievement continues to show that Colorado Springs is the right location for USSPACECOM for our nation’s readiness.”

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