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Congressman Mo Brooks Fights Effort to Undermine Pentagon's Merit-Based Decision to Locate Space Command H.Q. at Redstone Arsenal

April 26, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC— Wednesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), in the House Armed Services Committee, Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing, rebutted political bias charges in the Pentagon’s decision to name Redstone Arsenal as the location for the Space Command headquarters.

Background: Various Congressmen persist, without supporting evidence, in claiming political motivations, not merit, caused the Air Force to name Redstone Arsenal as Space Command’s headquarters.  To date, then Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett stated she chose Redstone Arsenal solely on the strength of its score on the Air Force’s analysis of both qualitative (Redstone area ranked “high”) and quantitative (Redstone area ranked #1) factors.[1] Further, the Biden Administration’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin publicly supports the U.S. Air Force’s handling of the basing decision for U.S. Space Command headquarters.[2]

In a hearing before the House Armed Service Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Congressman Brooks asked Ms. Melissa Dalton, Department of Defense Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, Strategy, Plans and Capabilities; Admiral Charles Richard, Commander, United States Strategic Command; and General James Dickinson, Commander, United States Space Command, whether they personally knew of any political bias or other non-merit based criteria that effected the Pentagon’s decision to name Redstone Arsenal as the location of U.S. Space Command. Each witness denied knowledge of any political motivation for the location of Space Command headquarters to Redstone.

Congressman Brooks stated, “There is a significant risk that partisan political forces in Congress or the Biden White House will try to move Space Command HQ to a blue state (Colorado) from a red state (Alabama). Only time will determine whether politics triumphs over merit. In the meantime, I am pleased to have done my part to add Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Melissa Dalton, U.S. Strategic Command Commander Admiral Charles Richard, and U.S. Space Command Commander General James Dickinson to the list of defense personnel who quite clearly affirm that, to the best of their knowledge, the decision to locate Space Command HQ at Redstone Arsenal was based on merit, not politics.”

Click on the above image or HERE for video of Congressman Brooks’ comments and questions in yesterday’s hearing

Click HERE for full video of the Strategic Forces subcommittee hearing

 

Full transcript of Congressman Brooks’ comments and question follows:

Brooks: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’ve got some questions that also revolve around the Space Command headquarters being located at Redstone Arsenal in the Tennessee Valley, and I want you to think about things in two different contexts: one is merit, the other is non-merit or political, and let me run through the merit just for a moment. With respect to merit, as I understand the criteria or minimum requirements, there were three: one, you had to be within 150 miles, excuse me you have to be within the top 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas, you have to be within 25 miles of a military base, and you have to score in the top 50 or above on the AARP’s Public Policy Institute’s livability index.

Quite clearly, I think everyone would agree that Redstone Arsenal in the Tennessee Valley met those minimum criteria. So, once you get past those minimum criteria then you had a competition of sorts amongst other locales that met those minimum criteria, an evaluation of each sites score based on four criteria: 40 points was based on mission related criteria.

A subpart of that was workforce; by way of emphasis Tennessee Valley Redstone Arsenal has one of the highest concentrations of engineers in the world, and certainly in the United States of America. We have mathematicians, scientists, physicists - a highly qualified workforce.

We have a second subpart: mutually supporting space entities. Well certainly, as General Dickenson knows, we’ve got a plethora of space related military activities on Redstone Arsenal. We’re also the home of the Marshall Space Flight Center which is the birthplace of America’s space program. Very hard for anyone else to compete with the attributes that we have there. So, on the 40 points mission related criteria I’d submit that Redstone Arsenal did very, very well as evidenced by what we provide in the Tennessee Valley and Redstone Arsenal.

Second criteria was infrastructure criteria: Parking, land communications. Some of you are familiar with what we provide at Redstone Arsenal, certainly General Dickinson is. Family of military personnel, housing, healthcare – I would submit we scored very, very well in that second criteria – so that is 70 of the points.

Then you’ve got the third criteria, which is community support, which is 15 points. Schools – we’ve got excellent schools in the Tennessee valley. You’ve got a lot of gifted parents, of course they demand high quality schools for their children. Cost of living – A+ score – in my judgment there. We are one of the lesser expensive places to operate in the United States of America. Community support then, criteria that was fifteen points and I’d submit Redstone Arsenal in the Tennessee Valley scored very well.

Then, the fourth criteria, the cost of the Department of the Air Force. Granted, that there is an initial start up cost and at Redstone Arsenal that may be higher than at other places. However, there is also the long term operational costs. Given the lower cost of living, the other things that we offer at Redstone Arsenal at Tennessee Valley, I’d submit that we also scored well according to the cost to the Department of the Air Force criteria.

So, all that merit-based stuff being cited very, very quickly, now I get to my question. This is with respect to each of you, and I’ll start with General Dickinson. Are you aware, personal or direct knowledge, of any political non-merit influence on the Space Command Headquarters Redstone Arsenal location decision? Anything other than merit? General Dickinson are you? Any personal or direct knowledge?

Dickinson: I am not. I have no personal or direct knowledge.

Brooks: Admiral Richard, are you aware personal or direct knowledge of anything that would suggest that the decision to locate Space Command headquarters at Redstone Arsenal in the Tennessee Valley of Alabama was based on political or non-merit influence as opposed to merit.

Richard: Congressman, no I am not.

Brooks: Miss Dalton, I know this might be outside your normal ballpark but same question to you, are you with personal or direct knowledge aware of any political or non-merit influences on the Space Command headquarters Redstone Arsenal location decision anything other than merit?

Dalton: No, I am not.

Brooks: No further questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

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[1] “CONGRESSMAN MO BROOKS HAILS U.S. SPACE COMMAND HQ COMING TO TENNESSEE VALLEY,” January 13, 2021. https://brooks.house.gov/media-center/news-releases/congressman-mo-brooks-hails-us-space-command-hq-coming-tennessee-valley

[2] Sandra Erwin, “Pentagon chief Austin stands behind Air Force amid probe of Space Command basing decision,” February 22, 2021. https://spacenews.com/pentagon-chief-austin-stands-behind-air-force-amid-investigation-of-space-command-basing-decision/