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12th Space Warning Squadron
12th Space Warning Squadron emblem
Active 1967-Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Space
Part of AFSPC/14 AF/21st Space Wing
Garrison/HQ Thule AB, Greenland
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA

The 12th Space Warning Squadron (12 SWS) is a United States Air Force missile warning squadron, stationed at Thule Air Base, Greenland.

Overview[edit | edit source]

The primary mission of the 12th SWS is to provide critical, real-time missile warning, defense and space surveillance to the President of the United States, Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NORAD, and unified commands by operating a phased-array radar—which continuously provides warning of Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and Intercontinental ballistic missile attacks against North America—and detect, track, and identify earth-orbiting objects in support of USSTRATCOM’s space control mission.

The 12th Space Warning Squadron is a unit of the 21st Operations Group, which is part of the 21st Space Wing under Air Force Space Command. To accomplish its mission, the squadron operates the solid-state phased-array radar located at the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), Site I. The BMEWS site is located approximately 11 miles northwest of Thule AB. It provides early warning detection of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches from the Russian land mass and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launches from the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans against North America. Additionally, BMEWS keeps track of polar orbiting satellites. The operational crews report through the Missile Warning Center to the NORAD/USNORTHCOM Center. The Operation Support Flight provides direct operational support to the missile warning crews. The flight's Operations Training Section provides all crew force initial, recurring, and supplemental training. Other flight responsibilities include hardware and software development, operational test and evaluation, and crew force management.

Unit Commanders[edit | edit source]

Start End Commander
11 Jul 2013 Present Lt Col Kelly S. Easler
21 Jun 2012 11 Jul 2013 Lt Col Gregory G. Karahalis
16 Jun 2011 21 Jun 2012 Lt Col Christopher S. Putman
3 Jun 2010 16 Jun 2011 Lt Col Jeffrey Van Sanford
Feb 2010 3 Jun 2010 Lt Col Kimberly Damalas (Appointed)
26 Jun 2009 Feb 2010 Lt Col James Oldenburg
Jun 2008 26 Jun 2009 Lt Col David O. Meteyer
Jun 2007 Jun 2008 Lt Col James Forand
Jun 2006 Jun 2007 Lt Col Timothy Lincoln
Jun 2005 Jun 2006 Lt Col Scott Peel
Jun 2004 Jun 2005 Lt Col Franklin "Joey" Hinson, Jr
Jun 2003 Jun 2004 Lt Col Thomas Doyne
Jun 2002 Jun 2003 Lt Col Shawn Barnes

History[edit | edit source]

The 12th SWS was formed in January 1967 as a successor organization to the Air Defense Command 931st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, which was inactivated at the end of 1965. The 931st AC&WS operated a series of Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) radar sites in Greenland to detect intrusion of unknown aircraft. The squadron relayed information to the 64th NORAD Region Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system DC-31 Direction Center, and interceptor squadrons stationed at Thule Air Base.

With the development of ICBM and SLBM technologies, the mission to monitor aircraft coming over the horizon from the Soviet Union was transferred to other units, and the 931st AC&WS at Thule AB was inactivated.

Lineage[edit | edit source]

  • Activated as 12th Missile Warning Squadron, 1 January 1967
Re-designated 12th Missile Warning Group, 31 March 1977
Re-designated 12th Missile Warning Squadron, 15 June 1983
Re-designated 12th Missile Warning Group, 1 October 1989
Re-designated 12th Missile Warning Squadron, 15 May 1992-Present

Assignments[edit | edit source]

Bases stationed[edit | edit source]

  • Thule AB, Greenland, 1 January 1967 – Present

Equipment operated[edit | edit source]

Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS)[1]

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • Winkler, David F. (1997), Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program. Prepared for United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command.

External links[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force website http://www.af.mil.

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