Minot Air Force Base (Minot AFB) is a U.S. Air Force installation in Ward County, North Dakota, 13 miles (21 km) north of the city of Minot. In the 2000 census, the base was counted as a CDP with a total population of 7,599.
Originally opened in 1957 as an Air Defense Command (ADC) base, it became a major Strategic Air Command (SAC) base in the early 1960s, with both nuclear missiles and bombers (& tankers). When SAC was inactivated in 1992, the nuclear mission of the base was divided between the two present commands.
The 5th Bomb Wing (ACC) is the host unit at Minot AFB; its commander is the installation commander, and the unit is responsible for all base services, such as housing, the library, the Officer's Club, etc. The primary mission of the 5th Bomb Wing is to maintain and operate B-52H bombers assigned to the 23d Bomb Squadron. Minot AFB is one of two remaining bases with B-52s; the other is Barksdale AFB near Shreveport, Louisiana.
The 5th Bomb Wing consists of the following groups:
On August 30th 2007, a B-52 originating from Minot AFB, carried 6 cruise missiles with W-80 nuclear warheads to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana, with no knowledge of base personnel or crew. This incident sparked controversy across the country and launched a critical investigation; the results of which proved that this was an isolated incident and only a select few were capable of having information on the whereabouts of the missiles.
Whilst the policy is to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons there have been statements made to the press by the Air Force acknowledging the presence of nuclear weapons on the base, including the W80-1 warhead.
The 91st Missile Wing (AFSPC) is responsible for maintaining the Minuteman III nuclear missiles located in three main fields across North Dakota. Previously known as the 91st Space Wing, it was renamed as a missile wing in June 2008 It is one of the Air Force’s three operational intercontinental ballistic missile units, the others being at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
Operational groups of the 91st wing are:
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Minot AFB CDP has a total area of 7.6 square miles (19.7 km²), of which, 7.2 square miles (18.7 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²) of it (5.01%) is water.
There were 2,112 households out of which 68.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 86.5% were married couples living together, 3.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 8.0% were non-families. 6.6% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.25 and the average family size was 3.40.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 36.3% under the age of 18, 24.0% from 18 to 24, 38.1% from 25 to 44, 1.5% from 45 to 64, and 0.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 120.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 126.6 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $32,255, and the median income for a family was $32,306. Males had a median income of $22,458 versus $16,659 for females. The per capita income for the town was $11,629. About 5.0% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.2% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.
Also in Minot is Bishop Ryan High School, a private Catholic secondary school, grades 6-12.
The initial USAF host unit was the Air Defense Command (ADC) 32d Air Base Group, activating on February 8, 1957.
The ADC 32d Fighter Group was the first operational unit at Minot, with its 433d Fighter-Interceptor squadron. However, no aircraft were assigned to the unit, and January 1958 the 433d FIS was inactivated. It was replaced in February 1960 by the 5th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (The Spittin Kittens) was transferred to Minot from Suffolk County Airport, NY. The 5th FIS flew the Convair F-106 Delta Dagger. .
ADC F-106 operations continued at Minot until the command was deactivated in 1979 and became a part of Tactical Air Command (ADTAC).
A Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) facility was built and activated in June 1961. SAGE was housed in a huge, windowless blast-resistant concrete building with a pair of 275-ton computers. The computers processed air surveillance information and sent the data to Air Defense Command units. While the SAGE network operated until 1983, the Minot AFB website says the Minot SAGE facility was deactivated after less than two years of operation, in May 1963. The facility was then renamed the PRIDE Building ("Professional results in daily effort") and became a large office building (four stories including the basement) housing many different organizations.
The scope of operations grew as the Air Force assigned bombers to Minot in 1961 by the transfer of the 525th Bombardment Squadron (from the 19th Bombardment Wing at Homestead AFB, FL) on March 8, 1961, (preceded by the activation of the 60th Munitions Maintenance Squadron on December 1, 1960, and followed by 4136th Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron, 4136th Field Maintenance Squadron, & 4136th Organizational Maintenance Squadron 1n March 1961, with the 4136th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron being added in November 1962), being equipped with the new Boeing B-52H Stratofortress. Demonstrating the capabilities of the B-52 bomber, on January 10-11, 1962, a B-52H from the 4136th Strategic Wing at Minot set a new distance in a straight line world record, flying unrefuelled 12,532 miles from Kadena AB, Okinawa to Torrejon AB, Spain.
On February 1, 1963, SAC, as part of a conversion to convert to unit designations with historical importance, activated the 450th Bombardment Wing and 720th Bombardment Squadron and the formation of the 450th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron, 450th Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron, 450th Field Maintenance Squadron, & the 450th Organizational Maintenance Squadron simultaneously.
In 1961, the Air Force selected the land around Minot for a new Minuteman I ICBM complex. The 455th Strategic Missile Wing ICBM-Minuteman was activated in December 1962 along with the 455th Missile Maintenance Squadron, July 1962. The 740th and 741st Strategic Missile Squadron operationally controlled the ICBMs. In January 1963, the 743d Strategic Missile Squadron was activated with a third squadron of Minuteman ICBMS. During the 1970s the 150 missile sites around the region (10-70 miles from the base) were converted to Minuteman IIIs; a model of the older Minuteman I stands at the main gate.
Command of Minot AFB passed from Air Defense Command to the Strategic Air Command in July 1962 as the base's mission changed. The new command unit; the 810th Air Division (SAC) was organized along the 862d Combat Support Group (SAC) became the host unit on the base. Units assigned to the 862d Combat Support Group were the 862d Civil Engineering Squadron, the 862d Combat Defense Squadron (later: redesignated 862d Security Police Squadron), replacing the 4136th CDS), the 862d Food Service Squadron (later: redesignated 862d Services Squadron), 862d Operations Squadron (later: redesignated 862d Communications Squadron), 862d Supply Squadron and 862d Transportation Squadron, The 862d Medical Group was also formed and reported to the Commander, 810th Air Division.(SAC).
In July 1968, the 450th BW and 455th SMW were inactivated, being replaced by the 5th Bombardment Wing from Travis AFB, California, when jurisdiction of Travis was assumed by the Military Airlift Command and the 91st Strategic Missile Wing from Glasgow AFB, Montana, when Glasgow was closed. These changes were in line with the Air Force policy of keeping active those units with the most illustrious histories. The 23d Bombardment Squadron assumed operational control of all B-52 aircraft for the 5th BW. Unit Designations Assigned at Minot on June 25, 1968 were the 5th Bombardment Wing and 23rd Bombardment Squadron, 5th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron, 5th Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron (later: redesignated as the 5th Avionics Maintenance Squadron), 5th Field Maintenance Squadron, 5th Organizational Maintenance Squadron & the 5th Munitions Maintenance Squadron. 91st Strategic Missile Wing [Minuteman], 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron.
On July 2, 1969 the 862d Medical Group was renamed the USAF Hospital. Minot, and the 862d Services Squadron was inactivated; its functions were assumed by the 862d Combat Support Group.
The 810th Strategic Aerospace Division was inactivated 30 Jun 1971.
The 862d Combat Support Group was deactivated on July 31, 1972, with host unit duties being taken over by the 91st Combat Support Group (SAC). Under SAC policy, missile wings were fixed in locations, where aircraft units were considered a mobile and the host units were assigned to the missile wings. Units assigned to the 91st Combat Support Group were the 91st Civil Engineering Squadron, the 91st Security Police Squadron, 91st Communications Squadron, 91st Supply Squadron and 91st Transportation Squadron, The USAF Hospital, MINOT.
The 4th Post Attack Command & Control Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, SD maintained several EC-135 “Looking Glass” Aircraft on an alert at MAFB for coverage of the missile squadrons as a secondary (Airborne) Launch Control Center.
Late in 1973 a second Alert Parking Ramp ("Christmas Tree") was added across the runway from the original facility, the 416th Bombardment Wing from Griffiss AFB, NY maintained two B-52G’s with AGM-28B Hound Dog Missiles and two KC-135A aircraft along with two KC-135 Aircraft from the 380th Bombardment Wing at Plattsburgh AFB, NY. On January 2, 1975, the 57th Air Division was activated at MAFB, and on September 30, 1975, the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron was replaced by the 91st Field Missile Maintenance Squadron, and the 91st Organizational Missile Maintenance Squadron
Following the 1980 Iran hostage crisis, SAC tasked the former 57th Air Division to organize the Strategic Projection Force. The 57th AD became the host unit, providing logistical, security, administrative and other support services to the 5th BMW, 91st SMW and tenant organizations.
In the early 1990s the base prepared for change as the Air Force directed reorganization. Here, the 5th Bomb Wing assumed host base responsibilities.
In 1993 control of the ICBM force was transferred by ACC to Air Force Space Command. The 91st Missile Wing was assigned to AFSPC on 1 July 1993.
Inspectors observed an Airman playing a video game on a cell phone. As mentioned, no items of entertainment are authorized on any Security Post because of possible distractions. Among the other major issues highlighted by the inspection team were their knowledge and understanding of the "two man concept," and failure to properly search vehicles entering and exiting weapon storage areas. Other areas of concern were lack of tactics when instructed to respond to a simulated attack on a weapon storage area and failures to check vehicle routes used in the transportation of nuclear weapons or even to arm posted sentries along the routes used. Inspectors made a special note that security forces leaders "were unengaged in the proper supervision of SF airmen." which has been noted previously as a major fault among Air Force Security Forces units worldwide. One of the inspectors, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists even went so far as to directly chastise Security Forces leadership in the written report;
"If the leadership is still unengaged after all that has happened with the warheads, the missing ballistic missile fuses and problems with the first inspection, then they're not fit to have this mission," Kristensen said. "It's really frightening."
As a result of this incident and many other events in the USAF in recent months, Air Force Chief of Staffs forced resignation from the air force.
Additionally on 12 July 2008, three Air Force officers fell asleep while in control of an electronic component that contained old launch codes for nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, a violation of procedure, Air Force officials said. The Air Force said the launch codes had been deactivated before the incident, but it was still a violation of protocol, prompting an investigation. It is the fourth incident in the past year involving problems with secure handling of components of America's nuclear weapons. The incident occurred during the changing out of components used to facilitate secure communications between an underground missile-control facility and missile silos near Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, according to Col. Dewey Ford, a spokesman for the Air Force Space Command in Colorado. One of the parts, a code component, is for storage and processing. It is considered classified by the Air Force. A code component was removed from the equipment at the remote missile-control facility and replaced with a new code component. That made the old component inoperable, but an Air Force source said old launch codes were still contained in the part.
Under standard procedure, the four-officer crew of the facility is supposed to keep the component secure until it is returned to the base. Ford said the crew took the component to a building above the facility and locked the component in a lockbox. Then, three of the four crew members fell asleep. This violated Air Force procedure, which calls for at least two of the crew members to remain awake while in control of the component. At the time they were asleep, the crew and the component were in a locked building that is guarded by at least one armed airman at all times. The airmen were asleep for two to three hours, Ford said. The component was later returned to the Minot base, and the investigations of procedural violations were started by Missile Command, Space Command, the 20th Air Force and the National Security Agency. The investigation revealed the codes were not compromised, according to the Air Force.
The codes had remained secured, and the crew was inside an area protected by Air Force security at all times, the investigation concluded. The incident, which was first made public by the Project on Government Oversight, was the fourth misstep involving the handling of America's nuclear weapons in the past year. Summer 2007, a B-52 flew from Minot AFB to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana carrying six nuclear warheads that were not supposed to leave Minot. The crew of the bomber did not know that it was carrying nuclear missiles. In March, the Department of Defense discovered that nuclear triggers had been mistakenly sent to Taiwan and left there for 18 months before being returned to the United States....