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21CONS: two continents and a big island

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark. – Maj. Scott Schneider, 21st Contracting Squadron Detachment 1 commander, works at the U.S. Embassy in the Kingdom of Denmark Aug. 8, 2017. Working with the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark and the rest of the State Department in Copenhagen, 21st CONS Det. 1 also facilitates discussions between the Kingdom of Denmark, the U.S. and the 21st Space Wing in matters that effect Thule Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alethea Smock)

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark. – Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, and eight hours ahead of Colorado, 21st Contracting Squadron Detachment 1 works to ensure that contracts are executed for allocating life-support resources to maintain mission assurance for the 21st Space Wing Airmen at Thule Air Base, Greenland. Housed in the U.S. Embassy, 21st Contracting Squadron Detachment 1 works closely with the Department of State and the Kingdom of Denmark, which includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alethea Smock)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Located across the pond in Copenhagen, Denmark, and eight hours ahead of Colorado, a team of Airmen work tirelessly to ensure that contracts are executed in order to allocate life-support resources and maintain mission assurance for the 21st Space Wing Airmen at Thule Air Base, Greenland.

The mission of the 821st Air Base Group at Thule AB is to enable force projection, space superiority and scientific research in the Arctic Region for the U.S. and its NATO allies through integrated base support and defense operations. The group operates and maintains the base in support of missile warning and space surveillance as well as satellite command and control operations missions.

The 1951 Defense Agreement between the Kingdom of Denmark and the U.S. established the Thule Defense Area which subsequently produced Thule AB and the 821st ABG.

Housed in the U.S. Embassy, 21st Contracting Squadron Detachment 1 works closely with the Department of State and the Kingdom of Denmark, which includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands. 21st CONS Det. 1 in coordination with the 21st Space Wing Program Management Division, 821st ABG, the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron, and others provide all contracted life support services and base operations for Thule AB, said Maj. Scott Schneider, 21st CONS Det. 1 commander.

“Detachment 1 out here in Copenhagen, is responsible for a majority of the contracts at Thule AB,” said Schneider. “With a limited amount of military at Thule AB, there is a heavy contractor presence on base that provides basic life support services such as running the power generation plant, the water treatment facility, the dining facility, airfield operations and other such areas. These contracts are in place to enable the military personnel stationed at Thule AB to do their job.”

Working with the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark and the rest of the State Department in Copenhagen, 21st CONS Det. 1 also facilitates discussions between the Kingdom of Denmark, the U.S. and the 21st SW in matters that effect Thule AB, said Schneider. Balancing the difference in time zones is a test Det. 1 faces and overcomes daily.

“It's a challenge sometimes and takes thorough coordination,” Schneider said. “Having a five-hour time difference between Thule AB and an eight-hour time difference between you and the 21st SW can be both positive and negative.”

“On the negative side, if something pops up after we leave work for the day, it might sit in an inbox until the next day and we essentially lose a day working it. On the positive side, we can work an issue and usually resolve it before anyone at Peterson Air Force Base shows up to work.”

Schneider said between their counterparts at 21st CES, located at Peterson AFB, Colorado, and the Program Manager, located in Germany, that the team was able to draft a requirements document in a week, when it usually takes a month of back and forth. They were able to do this due to the unusual 16-hour work day that was created between the teams involved.

Recently, Det. 1 was able to acquire competition on the base maintenance contract for the first time in decades which significantly reduced the operating cost at Thule AB, Schneider said. Considering the detachment is comprised of six individuals from three countries, the feat of greatly reducing base costs was no easy task and took a team effort with our counterparts throughout the 21st Space Wing.

“For being such a small unit, we are uniquely positioned in Copenhagen, at the U.S. Embassy, to help work a lot of the issues at Thule AB to support them with the international agreement that requires the U.S. to maximize Danish and Greenlandic resources,” said Schneider. “We are in the right place with the right people to get things done; we are here to keep the mission moving forward and we will continue to do so.”

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