Major money could soon come to military installations

Military Matters

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs could be a big winner if National Defense Authorization Act becomes law.

The bill is a $743.3 billion dollar spending plan for the military and includes $322 million for improvements at installations.

  • Schriever Air Force Base: $148 million for Combined Space Operations Center
  • Peterson Air Force Base: $54 million for SOCNORTH
  • Fort Carson: $71 million for company operations facilities
  • Air Force Academy: $49 million for cadet prep dormitories

“This kind of cement and entrenches national defense space into the Pikes Peak region,” said Congressman Doug Lamborn, a Republican representing much of the Pikes Peak region.

The NDAA will also create the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the military and the first one created since 1947.

Lamborn sees the Combines Space Operations Center, where he said the intelligence community and Department of Defense work to fight and deter threats in space, as a good indication as Colorado Springs’ role in the new branch’s future.

“That would be totally foolish to have to spend this money again and build it somewhere else,” Lamborn said. “Along with the other facilities at Schriever and Peterson and NORAD, that are already there for our space mission.”

Schriever is currently the temporary home to space command and investments like this, Lamborn sees, as a good sign towards his efforts of making it the permanent home.

The hundreds of millions of dollars coming to Colorado Springs is welcome news for some city leaders, who also sees it as an investment for larger plans.

“There is a lot of military construction money coming our way,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “To me, the more infrastructure you get involving space, the less likely it is and the more expensive it is to move it someplace else.”

Suthers said the preliminary estimates of the amount of people that come with Space Command and Space Force is upwards of 15,000 people just from military members alone.

“What happens then is you get a whole lot of contractors,” Suthers said.

Suthers sees a potential ripple effect from that for high paying jobs like in engineering.

The NDAA still needs to pass the U.S. Senate, where both Colorado Senators Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D) support the legislation. Lamborn expects it to pass there and is equally as confident for President Donald Trump to sign on his support as well.

“We can be the premiere space for aerospace and Colorado Springs can be the epicenter of U.S involvement in the defense of space,” Suthers said.

Other Issues passed as part of the NDAA:

  • Creation of a 12-week paid parental leave plan for federal employees
  • 3.1% pay raise for trips including special pay and bonuses
  • Establishment of a Tenant Bill of Rights setting minimum living standards for privatized military family housing
  • Removing the military “Widow’s tax”
  • Funding for nuclear modernization

The NDAA also provides prohibitions of using PFOS and PFOA as fire fighting foams in non-emergency situations as well as requiring the DOD to accelerate finding a replacement. It does not, however, provide money to pay for cleanup or environmental impacts already caused by the fire fighting foam.

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