• Rep. Carbajal, Sens. Feinstein, Padilla Suggest Vandenberg for STARCOM HQ, Urge Transparency in Military Basing Decisions

    Washington, DC – Earlier this month, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) wrote to Defense Secretary Austin requesting increased transparency in the Department’s basing decision process, including Air Force and Space Force entities, and urging the Department to consider Vandenberg Air Force Base as STARCOM’s Headquarters.

    "Chambers of Commerce in Northern Santa Barbara County have long advocated for Vandenberg Air Force Base as a key economic driver in our region.   We welcome and appreciate our federal representatives’ efforts to ensure Vandenberg and the Central Coast are given full and fair consideration for new basing and mission work,” said Glenn Morris, president and CEO of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber.   “Our communities look forward to continuing to welcome and support the airmen/guardians who deliver on Vandenberg’s critical national security and local economic roles."

    In 2019, Vandenberg Air Force Base was selected as a finalist location for the U.S. Space Command. After public protests, the Air Force announced it would begin a new selection and evaluation process. Vandenberg AFB was subsequently left off the 2020 finalist list. Rep. Carbajal and Senator Feinstein sent several requests to both the Air Force and Defense Department asking for more information about the metrics used to determine the finalists, in order to objectively determine how Vandenberg AFB compared to the new slate of finalists, but never received that information. The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General is conducting a review of the basing decision due to concerns about the methodology used and the potential of political bias.

    In the meantime, Space Force will soon begin the basing selection process for the new training and readiness unit, Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM). In addition to the assets that made Vandenberg AFB a finalist for U.S. Space Command headquarters, Vandenberg AFB hosts the 533d Training Squadron, where Air Force and Space Force personnel are trained in space systems, making it a logical choice to serve as the home of STARCOM. 

    “We understand that the Department will be conducting a basing selection process for the new training and readiness unit, Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM). We believe that Vandenberg AFB will be a top-tier candidate due to its existing training assets, including the 533d Training Squadron,” wrote the lawmakers. “We look forward to learning more about the methodology that will be used in this basing decision and respectfully request that you give Vandenberg AFB all due consideration during the evaluation process.”

    “Growing Vandenberg’s space mission is a win-win for national security and the Central Coast region. The base’s existing space operation, location and room for growth make it ideal for additional Department of Defense missions, and more missions mean expanding Vandenberg’s multi-billion dollar impact on the region’s economy with more high-paying jobs in a future-oriented industry,” said REACH COO Andrew Hackleman. "We join with Congressman Carbajal and Senators Feinstein and Padilla in supporting mission growth at Vandenberg as good for the Central Coast and good for California.” 
    Read the full letter here.