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Air Force Director of Weather visits Thule

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland - Retired Col. Ralph O. Stoffler, Headquarters Air Force’s director of weather, administers the Oath of Enlistment to Staff Sgt. Miles Sumner, 821st Support Squadron, on Delong Pier at Thule Air Base, Greenland. Stoffler visited Thule to first-hand the transition of weather support from contractors to Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Stoney M. Bair)

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland - Retired Col. Ralph O. Stoffler, Headquarters Air Force’s director of weather, administers the Oath of Enlistment to Staff Sgt. Miles Sumner, 821st Support Squadron, on Delong Pier at Thule Air Base, Greenland. Stoffler visited Thule to first-hand the transition of weather support from contractors to Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Stoney M. Bair)

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- Ralph O. Stoffler, Headquarters Air Force's director of weather and Chief Master Sergeant Ronald J. Richards, Jr., enlisted career field manager for weather, visited the three-person weather team of the 821st Support Squadron March 17 to see first-hand the transition of weather support from contractors to Airmen 18 months ago at "The Top of the World."

As part of their first visit to the installation, dignitaries visited agencies throughout the base in an effort to gain perspective as to how the weather team both supported and enhanced both Thule and the 21st Space Wing's mission.

Starting with the 821st Air Base Group leadership's mission brief from Colonel Stuart A. Pettis, 821st Air Base Group and installation commander, who spoke on the importance of the role the weather team had in personnel safety, resource protection and mission sustainment. The mission of Thule's weather team isn't solely executed for the 821st ABG, as vital relationships with tenet units and disparate governmental and foreign entities on Thule (due to the unique geographical location), requires a "total community" focus. From the host nation of Denmark to the National Science Foundation, as well as thoughtful consideration to the local Greenlandic populace that sometimes frequent the base.

Next, the group visited the Air Traffic Control Tower where Capt. Simmona Ahn, Operations Flight commander, gave the touring visitors a bird's eye view of the airfield and spoke about the impact weather has on flying and ground operations on the runway and throughout the installation. Stoffler and Richards then toured the DOD's northernmost seaport, Delong Pier. There, Stoffler's status as a retired colonel allowed him the opportunity to perform a re-enlistment for Tech. Sgt. Brandon Knight and Staff Sgt. Miles Sumner, two of the three personnel on the weather team. Braving the bracing cold coming from the nearby glaciers and sea ice, Stoffler read the Oath of Enlistment and extended the careers for the two forecasters.

Making the trek to the 12th Space Warning Squadron, the visitors met with the, Lt. Col. Marc A. Brock, 12th Space Warning Squadron commander discussed their reliance on the weather team for during inclement weather for crew cycle and resource allotment considerations. He also briefed the relationship between space weather phenomena and tracking polar orbiting satellites. The team also visited Detachment 1, 23rd Space Operations Squadron, assigned to Schriever Air Force Base, where they were briefed on the detachment's mission.

Following the base tour, Stoffler and Richards received a briefing from all three weather personnel about the crucial community ties they'd cultivated and maintained.

The crew then shifted focus to the equipment and procedural limitations, and proposed courses of action on how the weather unit could improve support to Thule's mission and personnel.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui