The mission of the 821st Air Base Group is to enable force projection, space superiority and scientific research in the Arctic Region for our nation and allies through integrated base support and defense operations.
821st ABG operates the DoD's northernmost installation and is also the world's northernmost deep-water Seaport and provides a unique platform for artic training, international scientific research and environmental programs.
In 1946, a combined Danish-American radio and weather station was established in the area near what is known today as Thule. The 1951 Defense Agreement between Denmark and the United States established the Thule Defense Area, and the base itself was built under Operation Blue Jay (1951-1953).
The origin of the 821st Air Base Group dates back to the establishment of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site in 1961. Throughout the years, several commands were responsible for the base, including Northeast Air Command, Air Defense Command and Strategic Air Command.
The unit was first designated as the 12th Missile Warning Squadron and later became the 12th Missile Warning Group. Air Force Space Command (recently changed to U.S. Space Force in 2019) took control of Thule in 1983 and the unit was redesignated as the 12th Space Warning Squadron in 1992. In June 2002, the 821st Air Base Group was created as the host unit for Thule Air Base.
Thule Air Base is the U.S. DoD's northernmost installation - (76 32' North latitude, 68 50' West longitude) located 750 miles North of the Arctic Circle, and 947 miles South of the North Pole on the northwest side of the Island of Greenland. It is approximately 550 miles east of the North Magnetic Pole. Located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, Greenland is the world's largest island with more than five-sixths of its surface covered by the polar ice cap. The term Greenland is "Kalaallit Nunaat" in the Inuit language. It is a country within the Kingdom of Denmark and inhabited by approximately 56,000 people. The closest town is Qaanaaq, 75 miles northwest of the base with a population of about 600.
Because of its northern location, Thule experiences constant darkness from November until February and constant sunlight from May to August. Average winter temperatures range from 13 to 20 degrees below zero, with 85 degrees below zero being the lowest recorded reading. Summer temperatures normally range from 30 to 44 degrees with the highest recorded reading being a tepid 68 degrees.