12th Space Warning Squadron

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12th Space Warning Squadron
Thule 12th sws.jpg
AN/FPS-132 (UEWR) Radar
Active 1967-Present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Missile Detection and Warning
Part of Air Force Space Command
Garrison/HQ Thule Air Base, Greenland
Motto(s) Top of the World
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
12th Space Warning Squadron emblem 12th Space Warning Squadron.png
12th Missile Warning Group emblem 12 Missile Warning Gp emblem.png

The 12th Space Warning Squadron is a United States Air Force ground-based radar used for missile warning, missile defense and space situation awareness, stationed at Thule Air Base, Greenland.


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, thus "knitting a blanket of freedom".

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 76°34′08″N 68°19′05″W / 76.569°N 68.318°W / 76.569; -68.318. 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 (DOO) provides direct operational support to the missile warning crews. The flight's Operations Training Section (DOT) provides all crew force initial, recurring, and supplemental training. Other flight responsibilities include hardware, software and maintenance support (MA), operational test and evaluation (DOV), and crew force management (DOU).


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.


  • Constituted as the 12th Missile Warning Squadron on 1 November 1966
Activated on 1 January 1967
Redesignated 12th Missile Warning Group on 31 March 1977
Redesignated 12th Missile Warning Squadron on 15 June 1983
Redesignated 12th Missile Warning Group on 1 October 1989
Redesignated 12th Space Warning Squadron on 15 May 1992


Bases stationed[edit]

Equipment operated[edit]

Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS)[1]

Unit Commanders[edit]

Start End Commander
June 2018 Present Lt Col Neil A. Menzie
June 2017 June 2018 Lt Col Carl B. Bottolfson
June 2016 June 2017 Lt Col David L. Ransom
June 2015 June 2016 Lt Col Marc A. Brock
June 2014 June 2015 Lt Col Jason Resley
11 Jul 2013 June 2014 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


 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]