The Air Force received failing and subpar grades in impartiality, credibility and documentation when the federal Government Accountability Office reviewed its decision to permanently base U.S. Space Command in Alabama rather than Colorado.
Space Command would reach its “full operational capability as quickly as possible” were it to be located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs rather than Huntsville, Ala., the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to the office’s report, published Thursday morning.
Three of Colorado’s Congressional Democrats and one Republican said in a statement that the report validates their criticism of former President Donald Trump’s administration for using a “flawed, untested, and inconsistent process” to pick Space Command’s location.
The latest report and another, heavily redacted, May report from the Department of Defense showed the decision “lacked integrity and neglected key national security considerations,” Democratic U.S. senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper said in a statement.
U.S. representatives Doug Lamborn, a Republican, and Jason Crow, a Democrat, also signed on to the statement.
Trump resurrected Space Command in 2019 — following a nearly two-decade pause — and named Peterson Air Force Base its temporary headquarters. The area is also home to the National Space Defense Center and the Schriever Space Force Base. Many in Colorado hoped, even presumed, the area would become the permanent home of the newly revived Space Force.
But in early 2021, the Trump administration decided instead to base Space Command in Huntsville. The move was widely panned as a political attempt to reward Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of Trump.
The Air Force’s decision didn’t have an independent entity review its process and cost estimates failed to weigh whether the price tag would change with the relocation, the report says. For this, the office ranked the decision’s credibility at 46%, saying the Air Force “minimally met” credibility criteria.
The report ranked the Air Force’s documentation practices and impartiality each at 60%, again saying the branch “minimally met” certain criteria. The Air Force did not document all its risk assessments used in the decision to relocate, nor did it document how it weighed the criteria used in the process.
Air Force officials told investigators they did not follow established best practices guidelines for the move because they were “not required or relevant” to their decision at hand, the report says.
Investigators disagreed and said following those guidelines would better position the Air Force to pick the right base and “help prevent bias, or the appearance of bias, from undermining their credibility,” the report says.
The GAO’s report doesn’t say where Space Command should be based. Instead it recommends that the Air Force use established best practices moving forward for determining where to establish a base.
“The Air Force neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation,” the report says.
In their statement, Bennet, Hickenlooper, Lamborn and Crow said the investigation shows the “shortcomings” of the Trump administration’s decision to place Space Command in Alabama. They called on President Joe Biden’s new administration to review the findings and make a new decision on the base “that prioritizes our national security and mission in space.”
Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, they said, remains the “only and best home for U.S. Space Command.”
Source: Read Full Article