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"How Minot Leaders Are Tackling Quality-of-Life Challenges Amid the Cold and Isolation"

  • 01 Nov 2023 07:58
    Message # 13274096


    Minot Air Force Base, N.D., holds a unique position among Air Force installations. As the only base to host both bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, it is crucial to the service’s nuclear mission. But it is also isolated, hours away from major population centers and located in the far north of the U.S., creating long and cold winters. Airmen staffing the nation’s nuclear forces also have to put in long hours or even days on the job to be ready at a moment’s notice. 

    For years, the base has been tagged as one of the least desirable for Airmen to be stationed. Minot leaders are well aware of the stigma and are working to ameliorate some key quality-of-life concerns, they said recently. 

    “Last week we got about 10 inches of snow. Currently it’s about 18, 20 degrees outdoors with a wind chill of about 8 degrees or so, and we’re still out there doing the job,” Col. Kenneth C. McGhee, the commander of the 91st Missile Wing, said Oct. 30 during a virtual AFA Warfighters in Action event. “Our Airmen are some of the finest American citizens that you will ever meet. … And so every single Airmen, we put our arms around, and there are challenges that we need to make sure we’re taking care of them.” 

    Compounding those challenges is the fact that many of those Airmen are young—McGhee said two-thirds of the base’s security forces are below the age of 26. He added it is not uncommon for two second lieutenants to be tasked with manning a launch control center—the underground bunkers where missileers work in 24-48 hour shifts on alert to launch ICBMs. 

    Feeling isolated can be particularly dangerous for young service members, who face a higher risk of suicide. Col. Daniel S. Hoadley, the commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, said the civilian community of Minot, N.D., recognizes the possibility of loneliness and has worked hard to address it.

    Last modified: 01 Nov 2023 08:02 | Anonymous member

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