This week, the Department of Defense will stand up the temporary headquarters for the new U.S. Space Command here in Colorado.
As the department assesses options for a permanent location, it should look no further: the Centennial State is the obvious choice.
Colorado is best positioned to ensure the United States maintains superiority in space.
As space has become increasingly vital to modern communications, military capabilities and emerging technologies, countries like China and Russia have taken steps to challenge the United States.
To ensure our advantage, it is incumbent on the Department of Defense to select the most favorable location for U.S. Space Command’s permanent headquarters.
As the epicenter of national security space, Colorado is the clear option. No other state offers our combination of thriving military and intelligence assets, a robust aerospace industry and a supportive community focused on providing a good quality of life.
A key mandate of the new U.S. Space Command is to integrate elements of our national security apparatus under a unified mission.
Locating our newest combatant command in Colorado would allow it to build on our existing defense and intelligence missions and assets, from Air Force Space Command, to the National Space Defense Center, the 21st and 460th Space Wings and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
These assets include the personnel, missions, secure communications and other infrastructure U.S. Space Command will require to accomplish the mission.
A permanent U.S. Space Command in Colorado would also have the benefit of one of the most robust and innovative aerospace sectors in America.
Our state is home to over 50,000 aerospace jobs between the public and private sector. We not only have a higher concentration of aerospace jobs than any state in America, we also have the largest per capita aerospace economy, with a payroll of more than $3.5 billion.
Our thriving aerospace sector is in no small part thanks to our state’s strong culture of innovation and partnerships with leading institutions of higher education, from the Colorado School of Mines, which offers ROTC leadership training alongside its advanced engineering degrees, to the University of Colorado-Boulder, which boasts the top aerospace engineering program in the country.
With our robust aerospace workforce, educational pipeline and unmatched quality of life, it is not hard to imagine U.S. Space Command recruiting and retaining top talent for its mission.
In August, I invited Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to see firsthand why our state offers the ideal foundation on which to reestablish U.S. Space Command. As our country prepares for emerging threats in a new century, Colorado stands ready to play its part.
Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, is a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate.