Minot Afb

Written by Sarah Provost
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"Roughrider Spirit" prevails at Minot Air Force Base. It refers not only to the slogan of the 91st Space Wing stationed there, but also to the fortitude necessary at a location where the average low temperature in January is -2°F, average highs in July 82°F, and blizzards, thunderstorms and tornadoes are common. The sign over the gate says, "Only the Best Come North."

Roots of the Mission in the Cold War

Minot's mission has remained basically unchanged since the early days of the Cold War. The host unit, the 5th Bomb Wing, is a major Air Combat Command unit and one of only two B-52H Stratofortress bomber bases in the Air Force. The 91st Space Wing is focused on the base's other major weapons system, the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

Both of these wings were originally more focused on the nuclear arms standoff during the Cold War era, and still serve that function. However, with the decline in nuclear weapons, they are being deployed in conventional warfare. Their mission is to provide global strike capability.

The 91st Space Wing controls 150 Minuteman III missiles. These ICBMs are housed in underground silos, spread over an area of North Dakota about the size of Massachusetts. Each missile is located in an unmanned remote site called a launch facility, monitored from remote, manned launch control centers. In these control centers, two officers on 24-hour alert tours control 10 missiles assigned to their site. They can also remotely launch any of the 50 missiles in their squadron.

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