PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Colonel Timothy Bos, 821st Air Base Group commander, took time out of his work schedule at Thule Air Base to tell us a little bit about himself, his family and the rich resources that his Arctic command locale offers the Airmen who are stationed there. He’s originally from Michigan, but he calls Omaha, Nebraska his home when he isn’t on assignment to Greenland. There, his wife, Terra, lives with their twin daughters and a Yorkie named Toby, while his eldest daughter attends university.
21st Space Wing Public Affairs:
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Col. Timothy Bos:
My wife, Terra, is a former Air Force Captain, and we have three girls: Tayler, 18, is an incoming freshman at Colorado State University, and twins Hailey and Katie, 13, are beginning 8th grade this year. My wife and twins have remained in Omaha during my remote assignment; I permanently changed station from U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. My wife and I met while we were both assigned to Minot AFB, North Dakota. We have a five-pound Yorkie named Toby who’s the “man of the house” while I’m at Thule.
My home town is Grand Rapids, and most of my extended family is in Michigan. My family moved to Key West, Florida, when I was 12 years old, where I graduated from high school in 1990. I then went to college at Florida State University, where I graduated and received my commission through the Air Force ROTC in 1997. My brother, Matt, and his son, Ryan, live in Ocala, Florida, where Matt is a sergeant in the Ocala Police Department, and my 13-year-old nephew is in the Civil Air Patrol [Cadet Program].
I enjoy running, scuba diving — Thule has a diving club — and traveling.
What are your priorities while in command?
First, I will continue to foster a Team Thule spirit and partnership where everyone from the 821st ABG, 12th Space Warning Squadron, 23rd Space Observation Squadron Detachment 1, the Danish and Canadian military personnel, and all the various contractor and scientific organizations come together as a cohesive team to accomplish our missions. No one unit at Thule can effectively operate here without support from another member of Team Thule.
Another priority is encouraging all members of the ABG to make a difference. It’s very easy in a one-year assignment to just bide your time and immediately start focusing on your PCS and next assignment. The missions performed at Thule are critical and directly contribute to the defense of the U.S. and our allies and partners, and we need all members to immediately jump in and get to work. However, it’s not just simply doing your job. There are always ways to accomplish the mission more effectively and efficiently – especially when you get a fresh perspective and a wide variety of ideas every month.
Additionally, I want all members to take full advantage of this awesome assignment at the top of the world to explore the area — safely, of course — and to learn as much as they can about the culture and traditions of both the Greenlandic and Danish people, as well as sharing stories of being an American with our local hosts.
What do you hope to bring to your group?
I plan to share my more than 22 years of Air Force experiences with the members of Team Thule to ensure all members understand and appreciate the impacts their work has on the national security of the U.S. and our allies. I have had unique opportunities, especially as a career space operator, to work side-by-side with theater commanders, planners, allies and partners in the integration of space capabilities and effects into plans and operations. So I know first hand how the missions at Thule directly contribute to the success of our joint force. I also greatly appreciate the value of international cooperation and partnerships, and I plan to instill this sense of teamwork to all members of the ABG.
What do you foresee as your biggest challenge at Thule?
The unique, and often harsh, Arctic climate is the most significant challenge. Thule is completely self-sustaining from electricity to heat to water. Our lifelines are the aerial port, which is operated year-round, and the seaport, the Department of Defense’s northernmost deep-water seaport, which is supported by the Air Force’s only tugboat. Fortunately, the Air Force has been operating at Thule continuously since the early 1950s, so the knowledge and expertise to live and operate here is very deep.
Other than the obvious environmental challenge, the frequent changeover of personnel, very similar to a deployed location, is a constant challenge. Before I arrived, I envisioned the entire military population changing out each summer, resulting in a complete reset of all base functions. Fortunately, the PCS’ are really spread throughout the year, so there are always some experienced members on the base and in each work center. Additionally, Thule is very unique in that 3/4 of all base functions and operations are accomplished by U.S., Danish, and Greenlandic contractors, and some have been at Thule for as long as 30 years! So while military personnel are rotating in and out every month, there are well-established processes and timelines to minimize the impacts of the changeovers.
Do you have a suggested reading list for your Airmen?
“Make Your Bed” by retired Adm. William McRaven
“Blind Spot” by Mahzarin Banaji
“The Bedside Baccalaureate” by David Rubel
“The Hundred Year Marathon” by Michael Pillsbury
“Duty” by Robert M. Gates
“It Worked for Me” by Colin Powell
“Wired for War” by P.W. Singer
“Ghost Wars” by Steve Coll
Books I’m working on at Thule:
“The Better Angels of our Nature” by Steven Pinker
“The Mission, the Men, and Me” by Pete Blaber
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins
“First Salute” by Barbara Tuchman
“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek
“The Leadership Challenge” by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
What has been the best experience thus far in your career?
My best experience has been the opportunity to travel around the world and see first hand the relationships and partnerships built between the Air Force and our allies and partners. It’s amazing that we all share the common goal of protecting and defending our respective nations and that we can come together, as like-minded democratic nations, to collectively accomplish much more than any of us could accomplish individually.