Sen. Sherrod Brown has renewed calls to locate the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command in Ohio, an effort to revive a campaign that fell short nearly three years ago.
Brown sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday urging him to consider the Buckeye State as the headquarters.
“The logical place is Wright-Patt,” the senator said in a briefing with reporters, referring to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, already the largest single-site employer in Ohio and home to much of the Air Force’s logistics, research and intelligence work.
Elaine Bryant, senior vice president of aerospace and defense for Dayton Development Coalition, agreed that if there is an opportunity to advocate for Ohio as the headquarters of the command, then state leaders should do so.
“This is about national security and jobs specifically for our state,” Bryant said.
“From the Wright brothers to American heroes like John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, the story of modern aviation is rooted in Ohio — and Ohio is ready to meet the challenges of the future,” the new letter says in part.
Leaders of Alabama announced in 2021 that Space Command headquarters will be located in that state, at Huntsville. But Dayton-area leaders learned several months earlier, in late 2020, that Ohio had not made a list of finalists for the location.
The Alabama decision was fraught with controversy almost from the start. Leaders in Colorado urged a reconsideration. (The command is found today at Petersen Air Force Base near Colorado Springs.)
The Air Force has been reviewing the the 2021 decision, but observers have declined to characterize the situation as an “open competition.”
“It’s clear the (President Biden) administration will not go back to Alabama,” Brown said Wednesday. “The prior administration put it there.”
Space Command is separate from the nation’s newest military branch, the Space Force, which is the military service responsible for carrying out the the actions of the command.
Asked how Ohio’s position has changed since the previous decision was announced, Brown said, “We had what we had then, but we still have it.”
The letter was sent to Biden, Austin, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall and Chief of Space Operations General B. Chance Saltzman.
The Dayton area, with Springfield, are home now to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, the National Space Intelligence Center, and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson, and the 178th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group at the Springfield Air National Guard Base.
Neither Sen. J.D. Vance nor U.S. Rep. Mike Turner signed the letter. Asked why Vance did not sign the letter, Brown said Wednesday, “You’d have to ask him.”
Brown is a Democrat; Vance and Turner are Republicans. Turner was supportive of Ohio’s push for the headquarters in 2020 and is known nationally as an advocate of Wright-Patterson, the Air Force and the Space Force.
A spokesman for Turner said Wednesday said the congressman in recent weeks emphasized with Kendall that Wright-Patterson was available for “any missions.”
A message seeking comment was sent to a representative of Vance on Wednesday.