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The World's 18 Strangest Military Bases
The world's hodgepodge of military bases run the gamut from hazardous mountaintop forts to seemingly impenetrable underground bunkers. Then there are bases on remote islands tracking objects in deep space and high-tech laboratories probing the most lethal microbes in existence. The design of a base needs to address the immediate needs of a military while still being versatile enough to remain useful as threats and technology evolve. We tracked down some of the most interesting active military facilities and spoke with Brad Schulz, vice president of federal architecture at HNTB, about why they're notable.


Thule Air Base
Qaasuitsup, Greenland: Background: Thule Air Base sits within 800 miles of the Arctic Circle, making it the northernmost U.S. military installation. Among the many challenges posed by the region's climate is that the base's port is only accessible for three months each year, so major supplies need to be shipped during the summer. The base may be frozen and remote, but the 12th Space Warning Squadron operates an early warning system for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles from Thule, while the 21st Space Wing is in charge of space surveillance operations.

How It's Unique: Brad Schulz, vice president of federal architecture at HNTB, who recently worked on a dormitory replacement project at Thule, explains that construction crews essentially need to build on the most stable layer of permafrost they can get to. With temperatures dropping below minus-60 F, keeping troops warm is crucial. One of the more interesting weather-specific features is that all of the utilities are above ground, because it would be too hard to quickly access them if something went awry. "You don't bury any waterlines, communication lines or even sanitary lines," Schulz says. "They're all insulated and triple-heat-taped." Schulz also notes that all the buildings on the base are equipped with so-called arctic vestibules, which provide 24/7 access to shelter while ensuring the buildings remain secure.

TAGS: engineering, architecture, 18_Strangest, military, Army, Air Force, Navy, Iraq, Afghanistan, United States, England

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4 comments / Post a comment

Diego Garcia04:00:53 AM
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 Posted by: corluy Report Abuse

Sadly enough, what makes Diego Garcia (# 3 on the list) so unique is not its remoteness, but the fact that to build the base, and have no one peaking in, the 2000 inhabitants of the entire archipelago were forcibly removed in the late sixties / early seventies and dumped in some slums in nearby Mauritius. To read about their plight, just look up "Diego Garcia" on Wikipedia, or see the documentary "Stealing a Nation" by John Pilger which is online and can be watched for free. Every dirty trick in the book seems to have been used; neither the parliament of the UK, nor the US congress was ever informed about what was going on. The story continues even today: in 2010, the UK government has declared the entire archipelago - except for the base, of course - a natural reserve thereby implicitly denying the Chagossians the right to visit their former homes, let alone to return there.

stargate8:13:32 PM
Wednesday, August 04, 2010 Posted by: ArenSilver1 Report Abuse just to add to cdcarch's correction, stargate, though sometimes involving travel through time (for example "moebius" or "1969") is primarily about space travel.

Stargate12:33:40 AM
Monday, June 21, 2010 Posted by: cdcarch Report Abuse In the Stargate franchise (beginning with the movie), Cheyanne mountain was always the HQ of the American "stargate" program. This program consisted of Cosmic SPACE Travel though, not TIME travel.

Keep Secrets4:18:39 PM
Thursday, June 17, 2010 Posted by: nealr1965 Report Abuse What about RAF Menwith Hill UK.

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