by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
4/14/2015 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- Approximately
750 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 946 miles from the North Pole,
with temperatures typically ranging from 30 to 40 degrees below zero in
the winter to 30 to 40 degrees in the summer, lies Thule Air Base.
Upon arrival and getting hit in the face with the frigid, cold air, a
welcoming committee made up of senior leadership is on the flightline
waiting to shake your hand and welcome you to Thule.
The area began as a Danish-American radio and weather station in 1946.
Then in 1951 it became the Thule Defense Area under Operation Blue Jay.
Today, Thule Air Base supports the missile warning and space
surveillance and satellite command and control operations missions. With
a population of approximately 700 people including U.S., Canadian,
Danish and Greenlandic personnel, the base provides security,
communications, civil engineering, personnel, services, logistics and
In addition to support and sustainment of the 12th Space Warning
Squadron and the 23rd Space Operations Squadron Detachment 1, Thule
supports Danish and Canadian resupply missions as well as scientific
research missions. The Canadian resupply mission, Operation BOXTOP I
(spring) and II (fall), Operation NORTHERN FALCON, a Danish resupply
mission, and the Greenland Inland Transfer, where the National Science
Foundation drives supplies inland in large tractors every two to three
years, are example of these missions.
"Operating a base in an arctic environment comes with many challenges
including extremely cold temperatures and daylight extremes from 24
hours of daylight for several months to 24 hours of darkness for several
months," said Col. Todd Diel, 821st Air Base Group commander. "In
addition to the environmental extremes, we also receive most of our
supplies through the seaport, which is frozen over nine months out of
the year, which limits the availability of some of our supplies."
Surprisingly there are several entertainment opportunities even though
Thule AB is in a remote location with the closest town being about 75
miles away. In the summer there are boat tours, a three-hole golf
course, a go-cart track and the very popular climb up Mount Dundas.
"I love it out here, I really enjoy getting to know everyone I work
with," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Krausfeldt, 23rd SOPS Detachment 1 NCO in
charge. "When it's light outside, it's great because you can just hop in
a truck and go on a Thule trip at two in the morning and it's still
Even though the people are in an arctic environment, the surrounding
sites are beautiful and look different each day. The sunsets at the
pier, miles of frozen water, the different sized icebergs, glaciers,
arctic foxes and hares, all change daily.
"The year being here has been a great experience, I can see icebergs
floating by the pier outside my window," said Diel. "I am amazed by the
Airmen and all members of Team Thule that come together to create a
really special place, to make such an inviting place where everyone
takes care of each other and everyone fulfills their role as part of the
Thule, one of the six installations operated by the 21st Space Wing, is
the northernmost Department of Defense installation along with the
northernmost deep water seaport, and operates the Air Force's only tugboat.