Space Command HQ Would Require 'New Investment for Facilities'

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Lt. Col. Nathaniel A. Peace assumes command of new U.S. Space Force squadron.
Lt. Col. Nathaniel A. Peace, U.S. Space Force, speaks after assuming command of the new 73rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron during a ceremony at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, on Thursday, September 3, 2020. The ceremony took place overlooking the Space Gallery in the Museum. (Ty Greenlees/U.S. Air Force)

Col. Patrick Miller, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said in an interview Thursday that hosting the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command would require new physical construction at the base.

But he said also that in terms of space, Wright-Patterson has plenty of that for a new headquarters.

"When you talk about room, that would really break down to a couple of aspects," Miller said. "Do we have existing buildings and infrastructure that could support them (Space Command functions and personnel), open capacities to support them with existing stuff? I would say 'No.'"

He added: "Do we have land space to build stuff for a new mission, whatever that new mission may be? There is land space on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to welcome a new mission."

"But again, we don't own the vote," said Miller, who became installation commander at Wright-Patterson in June. "We contribute to that process. The Department of the Air Force is working through that now."

Asked if hosting Space Command would require a major new investment at Wright-Patterson -- already home to the headquarters of Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Research Lab, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and many other missions -- Miller said:

"I would say any mission set that's coming here, it would require an investment for new facilities."

Dayton advocates and Ohio political leaders have self-nominated the Dayton region to host the growing command, which today has a provisional headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, near Colorado Springs, Colo.

In what has become a national competition, Pentagon decision-makers are expected to decide on a permanent headquarters location for Space Command early next year.

"This is a process that quite honestly, we don't own," Miller said. "I'm an interested party, but I don't get a vote."

Do we have existing buildings and infrastructure that could support them (Space Command functions and personnel), open capacities to support them with existing stuff? I would say 'No.'" -- Col. Patrick Miller, commander, 88th Air Base Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

The Dayton region has made it past the vetting stage of that discernment process into the "evaluation" stage.

"The Dayton Development Coalition is kind of leading the charge for the community, and we're working hand in hand with them to provide good information to support the package as it goes forward," Miller said.

The U.S. Space Command is distinct from the Space Force, which is the U.S. military's newest branch. Space Force is under the Department of the Air Force, a relationship roughly analogous to the link between the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps.

Wright-Patterson is increasingly important to Space Force, as military personnel begin to transfer to the new branch, while remaining stationed at Wright-Patterson.

"You will see various functions that are supporting that Space Force mission transitioning from the Air Force to the Space Force," Miller said. "The nice thing is, they stay home in the same department, right? We're all the Department of the Air Force."

Added Miller, "It's a big deal because that's a big mission. And it is great for Wright-Patterson to be part of that evolution as we support our national defense strategy." 

This article is written by Thomas Gnau from The Dayton Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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