Home / World News / Air Force Space Command wants a stable price range. Officials say national security –and chunk of the Colorado economic system– is at stake – The Denver Post

Air Force Space Command wants a stable price range. Officials say national security –and chunk of the Colorado economic system– is at stake – The Denver Post

To say there’s a lot riding on taxpayer funds that continue to flow to Air Force Space Command —  from both a national security standpoint and a Colorado economy standpoint — may be selling it short.

The command, headquartered at Colorado Springs’s Peterson Air Force Base, leads U.S. military efforts in space and cyberspace. Its four facilities in the state, including Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, employ a combined 28,000 enlisted personnel, officers and civilians.

Counting its salaries, contracts with outside companies and contributions, Space Command has a roughly $3 billion impact on Colorado annually, according to Brig. Gen. Trent Edwards, the command’s director of programming, financial management and comptroller.

Those contributions were preserved — for at least two weeks — on Friday when President Donald Trump signed off on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 22, staving off a potential government shutdown as Congress works to craft a funding bill for the 2018 fiscal year.

Edwards, joining with other U.S. military leaders who have spoken out about the situation in recent months, says it is past time for Congress get serious about funding the armed forces.

“How would you like it if your employer said, ‘I can’t pay you 100 percent of your paycheck. I can only pay you 80 cents on the dollar and I don’t know when I can play you that,’” Edwards asked during a recent interview. “(Space Command is) a $180 billion institution, and we don’t know how much we’ll be getting. We need a stable, predictable funding line every fiscal year. That’s what we’re asking from our Congress.”

A government shutdown is possible if the current continuing resolution is allowed to expire before a 2018 spending bill is approved. If that happens — as it did briefly in 2013 — all nonessential civilian government employees would be furloughed, while essential staff and military personnel would be required to come to work without pay, Air Force officials say. All contract work with the government would abruptly cease.

That could have sizable impacts on the economy in Colorado and nationwide. Even if that is averted by a new spending bill or another continuing resolution, or CR, Edwards said Congress failure to provide a stable funding stream for defense is putting Americans at risk. Under a CR, Edwards and other military leaders can’t sign new contracts — meaning deferred equipment maintenance and purchases — or make new hires.

“Nine out of the last 10 years, we’ve operated under a CR,” he said last week, before the most recent continuing resolution was adopted. “That’s a total of 30 CRs lasting 1,000 days. Three years of a CR, where I can’t make long-term strategic decisions, and that’s just dangerous.”

Space Command’s uncertain budget situation could ripple out beyond the military, impacting decisions made by industries that work on large defense contracts such as aerospace.

In its home base of Colorado Springs, the economic importance of the military is especially pronounced.

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