The Air Force has yet to reach a decision on where to locate the new U.S. Space Command headquarters, three months since the combatant command’s revival in August, a senior Air Force official said Dec. 3.
The decision was originally expected to be made by summer 2019, but has been held up as the service has experienced the recent “changeout” of multiple leaders, Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David “DT” Thompson told reporters on the sidelines of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Launch event Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
“There’s been a lot of leadership changeout, and they want to make sure that they understand everything, not just U.S. Space Command,” Thompson said. “They want to understand all of the strategic basing decisions that are in works, how those decisions are made, what the criteria are… and be comfortable before we proceed.”
He declined to give reporters a new potential date for when a decision might be made, but confirmed the strategic basing process “is still underway.” The new command, which was stood up Aug. 29, is currently operating out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, which is the headquarters for Air Force Space Command.
The service has identified six potential sites for the headquarters, with four in Colorado: Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB, Buckley AFB and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Vandenberg AFB in California was also named as an option, as was the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. U.S. Space Command Commander Gen. John Raymond previously said the Air Force secretary would make the final decision.
Meanwhile, the new command – which took over responsibility of the U.S. military’s space warfighting capabilities from U.S. Strategic Command – continues to move forward as it works through a growth plan and operates under the ongoing continuing resolution, Thompson said.
“We have already designed what the headquarters should look like, what the organization should look like, how many billets, how many people – and we have a plan to grow over time … whether we have a CR or not,” he said.
“The good news is we’ve identified the number of people we need,” he added. “The challenge is to find all of the people we need for the skills.”
The command has some programs that it needs to “start urgently” before the end of the calendar year, particularly related to “protest and defend capabilities” and other efforts to address space as a warfighting domain, he noted.
“We’re also entering into new phases of some of our programs, all of those are either held up or reduced pending the outcome of the CR,” Thompson said.