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News > Cossacks on Ice: Ukrainians, Danes, Americans resupply remote outpost
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Cossacks on Ice
A group of Ukrainians, Danes and Americans, including Col. Tom Peppard, 821st Air Base Group commander (third in line), greet Brig. Gen. Max A.L.T. Nielsen, Denmark Tactical Air Command acting commander, and Col. Gen. Ivan Rusnak, Ukrainian Air Force commander, as they exit an aircraft in Hangar 8 March 18. The high end visit, which also included Ukraine's 1st Vice Minister of Defense and Denmark's Permanent Secretary of State, checked the status and commemorated Operation Brilliant Ice 2009. Operation Brilliant Ice is the annual resupply of Station Nord, a Danish military outpost northeast of Thule. For the first time, Ukraine's strategic airlift has been used to transport the supplies as part of an agreement between Denmark and Ukraine. Thule was the host for the visit and is the base of operations for Operation Brilliant Ice, sustaining and maintaining the Ukrainian crews and aircraft.
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Cossacks on Ice: Ukrainians, Danes, Americans resupply remote outpost

Posted 3/27/2009   Updated 3/30/2009 Email story   Print story


by 1st Lt. Lisa Meiman
821st Air Base Group Public Affairs

3/27/2009 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- Thule Air Base was home to a historic event of unprecedented multinational cooperation between three countries that less than 20 years ago glared at each other across the Cold War's iron curtain.

American, Danish and Ukrainian air forces successfully completed Operation Brilliant Ice 2009 March 26 after transporting more than 140,000 gallons (561,000 liters) of fuel and 17 tons of supplies to Danish military outpost, Station Nord, 600 miles northeast of here.

The operation, nicknamed "Cossacks on Ice," began March 9 and required 16 trips on Ukrainian aircraft IL-76 to transport the supplies.

Although Operation Brilliant Ice is an annual operation, this year marks the first time Ukrainian air force strategic airlift provided the transportation from Thule to Station Nord and back. Thule was the base of operations sustaining and maintaining the Ukrainian crews and aircraft.

"We have always supported the complex and impressive resupply operations to Station Nord, but the addition of the Ukraine involvement made this year's operations even more incredible. We're proud to be part of such a partnership that would have been impossible only 20 years ago," said Col. Tom Peppard, 821st Air Base Group commander.

To check on the status of the operations and to commemorate the historic event, numerous delegates from Denmark and Ukraine visited Thule in mid-March. 

"Ukraine is living up to our wildest expectations," said Brig. Gen. Max A.L.T. Nielsen, Denmark Tactical Air Command acting commander. "The crew set a record in lifting fuel in one day March 18, transporting 38,700 liters [10,223 gallons] in one trip. If done by Denmark, it would have taken more than two flights on our C-130s. This in itself shows the advantages of Ukraine's strategic airlift."

The outpost exists for enforcement of sovereignty and scientific purposes, and five Danish service members are stationed there year round. The royal Danish air force is tasked with supplying Station Nord.

In past years, Denmark's Tactical Air Command conducted resupply operations with C-130 Hercules aircraft, but Denmark's support to the Global War on Terrorism required changes.

"With Denmark's Tactical Air Command engaged in different operations in Afghanistan, we were close to being overtasked," General Nielsen said. "Through the cooperation between Denmark and Ukraine, we learned about their strategic airlift capabilities. That was how this partnership evolved."

The delegation also visited numerous organizations on Thule to learn about its missions and responsibilities during their stay.

"As always, the American hospitality at Thule is never ending. We are greatly enjoying the visit," General Nielsen said.

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