Air National Guard team implements new software at Thule AB

  • Published
  • By Audrey Jensen
  • 21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Being located in Greenland, Thule Air Base is 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle and just 947 miles south of the North Pole. More than 80 percent of the 840,000 square miles that make up Greenland are covered by a polar ice cap and glaciers.

With its extreme weather conditions, Thule AB may require more maintenance to its infrastructure than bases located in warmer regions.

To assess any current damage to the base, the 240th Staff Augmentation Team, Colorado Air National Guard, traveled to Thule AB, June 5-16, 2018, to survey bridges and facilities, report their findings and establish a database with the information.

The Air National Guard member in charge of the group, Lt. Col. Fred Brooks, works as the installation management flight chief for the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, and is also a certified bridge inspector.

Brooks and his group inspected bridges for 21 CES and assessed buildings during their visit to update a database called the BUILDER Sustainment Management System, an online software system used to store and categorize data from building systems.

For the base to be awarded funding for any repairs it may need, the building assessments done by Brooks and his team have to meet a certain score once the data is updated in BUILDER, which helps civil engineers, technicians and managers decide how to maintain building infrastructure.

“Without these BUILDER scores, Thule AB can’t compete at the Air Force-wide level [for funding], so they needed these scores to get awarded funding,” Brooks said.

A bridge inspection is due every two years and data from this is maintained by 21 CES, while findings from the building assessments will be updated in BUILDER and evaluated so the Air Force can prioritize this as a project to fund, if rated highly enough through the database.

Once the information is completely uploaded to BUILDER from the Thule AB assessment, it can be assigned a rating.

“The buildings will be assigned a condition and from that a technical rating for what the condition is as a building or as a particular system,” said Markus Tyboroski, 21 CES site support engineer. “That information is then used to justify project funding for repairs.”

Brooks and his team were asked to do the site assessment because, “at Thule AB, we don’t really have on-site capability to generate that information, so we put a request in and Fred’s team went up and are working on getting that database [BUILDER] established for us,” Tyboroski said.

One of the key functions of BUILDER is also to provide a framework for communicating and establishing standards of buildings based on concepts of condition, risk and mission readiness.

“Without that BUILDER data being established for Thule AB, we really weren’t able to get a priority for a lot of our projects up there,” said Tyboroski.

Sending Brooks and other Air National Guard members to assess Thule AB was helpful for 21 CES, Tyboroski said.

“We rely on a bunch of different resources to keep things going at Thule AB, so for us to get a team up there and support us, it really deferred a lot of potential costs,” he said.

Usually Brooks and his team are involved in staff-level exercises for operational planning, but assessing facilities at Thule AB allowed them to utilize their engineering skills in a different way.

“It was unique problem solving and creativity, it was complex issues that we were able to chew on collectively and come up with very innovative solutions and ideas,” Brooks said. “The other thing we were able to do was really be a new set of eyes from a different perspective.”

Once BUILDER is completely up to date with the data collected at Thule AB, the Air Force can look at its ratings for funding, and from there will decide what projects can take place at Thule AB.

“The entire team experienced a euphoria, because it was value-added work,” Brooks said. “And of course the setting in Greenland was awe inspiring. A traditional Air National Guard person is never going to be in Greenland otherwise — it was a once in a lifetime experience for them. It was fruitful work, we brought unique skills and talents from each member.”