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News | Nov. 22, 2021

USSPACECOM command team visits Thule Air Base, site of North American Air Defense, space tracking

By Air Force Master Sgt. Tsuyoshi Shinzato & Photos by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Svendsen U.S. Space Command Public Affairs Office

Army Gen. James Dickinson, U.S. Space Command commander, and Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker, USSPACECOM command senior enlisted leader, visited Airmen, Guardians and coalition members at Thule Air Base, Greenland, on Nov. 11-12, 2021.

U.S. Space Force Col. Heather L. McGee, 821st Air Base Group commander hosted the visit, which included a coalition session, senior leader luncheon, a town hall meeting and a tour of the strategic assets based in Greenland.

“The United States, as a member of the Arctic Council, is identified as an Arctic nation,” said Dickinson. “The alliance between the United States and Denmark is crucial in the Arctic, which has direct implications for both countries security interests. Geographically, the Arctic comprises the northern approaches of the United States and represents a potential vector both for attacks on the homeland and for U.S. power projection.”

Thule radar is one of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Sensors assigned to USSPACECOM that performs missile warning for North American Air Defense and space tracking to provide satellite collision avoidance. Thule's phased array radar, along with the radars in Alaska and northern United Kingdom, provides complementary early warning coverage over the Arctic region.

The senior leaders also visited various work centers at the 12th Space Warning Squadron and observed how service members operate in the Arctic. The 12th SWS supports three mission areas: strategic missile warning, missile defense and space domain awareness by tracking location, direction and identification of objects in orbit.

“Space capabilities are integral to our way of life, national security and modern warfare,” said Stalker. “The more objects there are to track in space, the more difficult the job becomes. Our highly trained Airmen and Guardians are up to the task and provide that space domain awareness to assure there is never a day without space.”

Thule, pronounced "Two Lee," is Latin for northernmost part of the inhabitable world. Thule Air Base is located in the northwestern corner of Greenland, in a coastal valley 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 950 miles south of the North Pole. For more than half a century, Thule has been home to active-duty Air Force members who live and work in this remote Arctic environment to perform national security.

Thule Air Base houses one of seven Remote Tracking Stations in the Satellite Control Network. The SCN node provides a shared use system to command and control over 195 satellites for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Government and its allies. Space operators detect and identify earth-orbiting objects in support of space domain awareness and conduct continuous, real-time missile warning and missile defense vital to the security of North America. The base supports missile warning, missile defense and space surveillance missions from the solid-state phased-array radar operated by the 12th SWS and Satellite Command and Control through the Thule Tracking Station operated by the 23rd Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 1.

USSPACECOM conducts operations in, from and to space to deter conflict, and if necessary, defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the Joint and Combined force, and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners.