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US Space Command to Reach Full Operational Capability In August

By Matthew Beinart | August 2, 2023
      U.S. Space Command conducts the Space Thunder exercise at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, in November 2021. Photo: U.S. Space Command

      U.S. Space Command conducts the Space Thunder exercise at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, in November 2021. Photo: U.S. Space Command

      U.S. Space Command is set to achieve full operational capability (FOC) this month, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

      Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, confirmed the FOC milestone update, which arrives after the Biden administration announced its decision on Monday to locate Space Command’s permanent headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

      “So they’ll be ready to operate now. And keeping the headquarters in Colorado Springs minimizes impact on operations and on the personnel transitions during a period in our country’s history that’s critical when it comes to space and the capabilities that are provided to our country and our national security from space,” Ryder said during a press briefing.

      Army Gen. James Dickinson, head of U.S. Space Command, said in April the command was on track to reach FOC sometime this year, after having achieved initial operational capability in August 2021.

      Space Command was reestablished in August 2019, with Dickinson previously noting the command has since developed four initial capability documents in various areas, including space domain awareness, space combat power, joint space command and control, and a joint space communications layer, and now has 169 space situational awareness agreements, including 129 with commercial companies, 33 with international partners, and seven universities.

      President Biden’s decision this week to keep Space Command in Colorado, where its interim headquarters have been located, reverses a Trump administration recommendation to base the command in Huntsville, Alabama.

      Monday’s announcement drew support from Colorado lawmakers, including Sens. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., while Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement “the fight is far from over.”

      Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined Rogers in his opposition and said the Biden administration “inserted politics” into the decision.

      “The top three choices for Space Command headquarters were all in red states — Alabama, Nebraska, and Texas. Colorado didn’t even come close. This decision to bypass the three most qualified sites looks like blatant patronage politics, and it sets a dangerous precedent that military bases are now to be used as rewards for political supporters rather than for our security,” Tuberville said. “This is absolutely not over. I will continue to fight this as long as it takes to bring Space Command where it would be best served — Huntsville, Alabama.”

      Ryder said on Tuesday the department is now focused on “expeditiously carrying” out the establishment of Space Command’s headquarters in Colorado and refuted claims that politics played a role in the decision.

      “Politics played no role in this decision. As we’ve talked about for some time, the Department of the Air Force has been doing a very thorough analysis and assessment for some time. And so, as you look back at this, it was a very thorough, deliberate process that was backed up by data and analysis and in compliance with federal law and DoD policy. Ultimately, a decision had to be made, recommendations were provided and the president made a decision. And that decision came down to operational readiness,” Ryder told reporters.

      This story was first published by Via Satellite sister publication Defense Daily.