Space Command 'Visits' Will Start Soon, Colorado Official Says

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Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond, briefs from the Pentagon Press Briefing Room about COVID-19.
The chief of Space Operations of U.S. Space Force, Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond, briefs from the Pentagon Press Briefing Room about COVID-19, Washington, D.C., March 27, 2020. (DoD/Lisa Ferdinando)

A county commissioner in the Colorado Springs, Colo. area says "site visits" will start soon to locations that are competing to host the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command.

Mark Waller, county commission chairman for El Paso County in Colorado, was quoted by Colorado Springs radio station KRDO as saying that there will soon be "site visits" to possible locations competing for the headquarters of the prized command, that could come with some 1,400 new jobs.

Also Friday, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, the ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and NASIC -- the National Air and Space Intelligence Center -- with U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton.

Nunes commented on Wright-Patterson's chances at winning the Space Command headquarters competition.

"I will say there will be proposals and there will be requirements," Nunes said. "I would be shocked if this facility here, with the size and scope of it and the available space and what they already do here, I would have to think that it would meet all the necessary criteria.

"I have not seen those requirements, but I would think this location (Wright-Patterson) would meet all those requirements and would have to be on the list of locations that they would look at," he added.

Dayton advocates have self-nominated the region and Wright-Patterson to be the new home for that command's headquarters. Other communities across the nation have done the same in what has become a national race.

"They want to start doing site visits next month," Waller told the radio station in a story posted Wednesday. "Plus, we have the election coming up and that could change things even further, depending on who wins. They want to whittle the number of (Space Command) candidates down to six or seven. I'm told once that happens, all bets are off."

It wasn't immediately clear who will be visiting and what areas are to be visited. Waller did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Turner said Gen. John Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Force, visited Wright-Patterson and NASIC recently. He declined to expand on that, but Space Force spokesman Maj. Nicholas Mercurio said the visit was not related to the Space Command headquarters competition.

Space Force and Space Command are not the same thing. Space Force is the nation's newest military branch. The Space Command is a combatant command under the U.S. Air Force. Space Force will have a role in equipping Space Command for its combatant mission.

Waller, in his interview with the KRDO, identified Alabama, Florida and California as the strongest contenders in the selection process.

Peterson Air Force Base in the Colorado Springs area retains the command's "provisional" headquarters during the search process.

A Dayton Development Coalition spokeswoman did not answer a question Friday about whether Wright-Patterson will be visited in the competition, but did release a statement from Jeff Hoagland, the coalition's chief executive.

"The Dayton region and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are the best choice to host Space Command headquarters," Hoagland said in the statement. "We have the workforce, the quality of life, and strong support for our military families. Wright-Patt's strong connection to the Space Command mission though organizations like the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the region's experience supporting large, complex commands means Dayton and Ohio are well-positioned to host Space Command. We are working with the Air Force and the Ohio Congressional delegation to ensure they have the information they need."

In May, the Pentagon set criteria for what leaders want in a new Space Command home, inviting communities to make their best case. Immediately, leaders of the coalition and other regional advocates spoke up for the Gem City, and in July came word from the Pentagon that, in fact, Dayton met Department of Defense criteria.

Next up: A decision on that location, which isn't expected until sometime next year.

Gen. Raymond's Sept. 24 visit to NASIC was not his first, according to an account of the visit by NASIC.

Based at Wright-Patterson, NASIC supports both the Air Force and the Space Force on scientific and technical intelligence regarding potential threats against the United States.

"You have a wealth of knowledge," Raymond said in the visit, according to NASIC. "I got a good flavor for the amount of expertise that you have that's been here for a really long time."

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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