As U.S. Space Command restarts its search for a headquarters location. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who represents Northwest Florida in Congress, is touting the state as ’the right home’ for that heqdquarters.
WASHINGTON — Florida is “uniquely positioned” to be the headquarters of the new U.S. Space Command, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz said Friday.
Gaetz’s assertion came in response to a request for comment on news that U.S. defense officials have reopened the search for a Space Command headquarters location.
A bipartisan swath of Florida’s congressional delegation, including Gaetz, began pushing early last year for Florida’s selection as headquarters of the Space Command.
► AUG. 10, 2018: Gaetz backs Space Force: ‘We have no choice’
In February of last year, on the same day that President Donald Trump signed a directive ordering the Department of Defense to establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military, a bipartisan group of 14 of Florida’s 27-member House delegation sent a letter to then-Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan calling Florida “the logical choice to locate USSPACECOM (Space Command).”
The letter touted Florida as “the epicenter for America’s space program,” noting its “strong defense and aerospace industry base” and “long history of supporting America’s military community.”
Despite that push, an informal list of potential locations for Space Command headquarters that came to light last spring did not include any potential Florida sites. Instead, the list comprised Colorado’s Buckley, Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases; Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, also in Colorado; California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base; and the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.
► FEB. 20, 2019: Florida seeks Space Command HQ
But in a Wednesday hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett told lawmakers that the Air Force, which is heading up the search for the headquarters, is “going to re-open the process and put forward the criteria in detail and invite all who think they have a good shot at it to come and represent their communities for that possible basing.”
Earlier in the week, at a hearing of the readiness subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, U.S. Space Force Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson made a similar statement, telling subcommittee members that defense officials are “now going to take a holistic look at all of the potential options” for Space Command headquarters and other Space Force operations.
“We will absolutely establish the criteria we need for each of these organizations and base them accordingly,” Thompson told subcommittee members.
► NOV. 16, 2017: Gaetz steering $30 million to Gulf Test Range
Barrett has indicated that selection criteria likely will be released this spring, with a final basing decision coming late this year or early next year.
Gaetz’s Northwest Florida district includes Eglin Air Force Base, which houses the 20th Space Control Squadron, already part of the Space Force as a unit of the 21st Space Wing headquartered at Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base.
The 20th Space Control Squadron uses a global network of radar and deep-space sensor installations, including a facility near Freeport, to find, track and target man-made objects in Earth’s orbit as small as a softball.
“Florida is the right home for Space Command headquarters,” Gaetz said Friday. “Space is a warfighting domain of the future, and Florida is uniquely positioned with our existing installations and hardware to house this dynamic mission.”
Reviewing the coronavirus supplemental appropriation and preparing to go vote. pic.twitter.com/wjJ4YY4VZz— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 4, 2020