This article discusses the so-called polar strategy of the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) from 1958, when SAC decided to build Thule Air Force Base in Greenland, until 1968, when Airborne Alert flights over Greenland were abandoned after a fully armed B-52 crashed near Thule. The article traces the implementation of the polar strategy from a “bottom-up” perspective, concentrating on deployments and rotations to Thule and training missions and operations out of Thule. The analysis, based on U.S. Air Force unit histories and Danish military reports, shows that the early polar strategy operated under difficult conditions but gradually became more feasible. In 1957 the strategy was implemented at Thule, but paradoxically it did not come to full fruition until the introduction of the B-52, which was not dependent on support from Thule. By 1960, SAC had left Thule, the emblem of the early polar strategy, but SAC bombers continued to fly missions in Greenland's airspace until 1968.

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