Minot AFB Community
Minot Air Force Base
Minot, North Dakota, 13 rolling prairie miles south of Minot Air Force Base’s main gate on U.S. 83, is about 65 miles west of Rugby, geographic heart of the North American continent, 41 miles east of Montana’s Big Sky Country and 50 miles south of Canada. For motorists, it’s
210 miles west of Grand Forks, or about four hours on U.S. 2, and 110 miles north of Bismarck, or two hours on U.S. 83 (east-west Interstate 94 runs through Bismarck). Fargo, the state’s most populous city, is 269 miles to the southeast, a little over four hours away, first south on U.S. 52 from Minot to Jamestown, then east on Interstate 94 to the Minnesota state line.
The base has almost 6,300 active-duty military and civilian members. Approximately 6,189 family members live and work on and around the base, and an estimated 1,380 retirees live in the local area.
The base itself covers about 5,300 acres, not counting its Minuteman III missile complex that adds another 8,500 square miles of public land around the installation. Renovations and upgrades have been underway since 2011, with 2014 seeing complete reconstruction of the 1957 runway used by the base’s fleet of B-52H Stratofortress heavy bombers, and in 2015, an $8.3 million infrastructure project to improve support of the second B-52 squadron, including temporary lodging and an aircraft maintenance unit plus $2.4 million in repairs and renovations to the Flight Kitchen. A ribbon-cutting in late August 2016 opened the newly renovated Dakota Inn Dining Facility to anyone with base access.
About Minot Air Force Base
As the Cold War heated up in the wake of World War II, U.S. military leaders became increasingly concerned about a stealth Soviet bomber attack from the north. Minot business leaders and residents lobbied hard for a base in their community that would block any such offensive and put up $50,000 to buy the first land for what became Minot Air Force Base.
On July 12, 1955, contractors broke ground, and on Jan. 10, 1957, the Air Force accepted its first building there. Less than 30 days later, the Air Defense Command’s 32nd Fighter Group activated at Minot on Feb. 7, and on Feb. 15, the Air Force officially moved in. Minot AFB was North Dakota’s first major military installation.
Today the base, part of the Air Force Global Strike Command, houses the 5th Bomb Wing’s heavy bombers and the 91st Missile Wing’s arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the sole Air Force base with two of the three components of the nation’s nuclear triad: air and land, the third being the sea-going nuclear submarines. “Only the best come north,” is the base’s slogan.
The 5th Bomb Wing is Minot’s host unit and thus responsible for base services from housing to medical care, but its principal missions are maintaining and operating the B-52H bombers of the 23rd and 69th Bomb Squadrons.
The 91st Missile Wing maintains and monitors its 150 Minuteman III nuclear missiles sunk deep in launch silos in northwest and northcentral North Dakota. Only two other Air Force bases have intercontinental ballistic missile units: Cheyenne, Wyoming’s F.E. Warren AFB and Malmstrom AFB at Great Falls, Montana. The 91st Missile Wing also has a squadron of UH-1N helicopters, the Hueys, which it uses for convoy, missile and launch control site security, though they also can move personnel and equipment, carry out medical evacuations and execute search-and-rescue missions.
Minot Air Force Base’s total impact on the local economy in fiscal year 2016 was more than $597 million. It was the biggest employer in the Minot area with 12,107 employees, who amounted to almost 34 percent of the workforce, according to the Minot Area Development Corp. The Air Force breakdown included $368 million in payroll, $93.4 million for construction, services and materials, $135.7 million for indirect jobs and $7.2 million to local schools.