Grand Forks Air Force Base is located 15 miles west of the city of Grand Forks. Grand Forks has a population of 50,000 and is home to the University of North Dakota. The city nearest to the base is Emerado with a population of 1473. The base is the home to the 319th Air Base Wing. The wing includes three groups: Mission Support, Medical Group and Air Base Wing. There are also tenant groups on base, one of which is the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigation (OSI). There are 2800 military members stationed at Grand Forks AFB with 370 civilian employees working on the base.
The history of the Grand Forks AFB begins in 1955. The base started out as part of the Air Defense Command with fighter interceptor planes. The Cold War was in full session and these planes were in service to protect United States borders. A Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) Data Center was also located at the base. SAGE was a system to link Air Force and FAA surveillance radar systems to provide early warning in case of an attack by the Soviet Union. In 1963 Grand Forks Air Defense Command ceased to function and base activities were assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC). In 1967 the base became an anti-ballistic missile site. Four remote missile sites were constructed within a 20 mile radius of the Missile Site Radar. Due to an agreement between President Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Breshnev this would be the only allowed site in the United States. As the Cold War wound down there were several realignments for the command wing. In 1995 the Strategic Missile Wing was deactivated and the ballistic missile silo was imploded. All that remains of that era is a Minute Man III missile on display at the entrance to the base.
Temporary housing is available for incoming military and family at the Warrior Inn. The maximum allowed stay is 30 days. Pets are not allowed in temporary housing.
The housing on the base has been privatized. The basic housing allowance can be used to pay rent on the base, or to rent or purchase a home off-base. There are 800 housing units available on-base. There is a two pet policy in place for the housing area. The number of handicapped accessible units is 26 . There are available homes and apartments for rent in the surrounding area but it is a rural location and the distance to the base can range from 15 to 40 miles. In inclement weather, the driving is hazardous due to ice and snow build up.
There are two schools located on the base. One is K-4th grade and the other is 5th to 8th grade. High school students attend one of two high schools located in Grand Forks. There is also a head start school on the base. Door to school bus service is provided year around.
There is a medical clinic on-base but no emergency room or hospital. For those services you must go to Grand Forks.
Shopping and Entertainment
A combination enlisted and officer club is located on base. A FamCamp is also located on the base. Military members and their families may enjoy a theater, golf course, fitness center and a hobby center. There is also a small base exchange but to make up for the size, the exchange has a shuttle system where they are able to procure merchandise from larger base exchanges quickly. Attached to the exchange is a mini-mall with barbershop, beauty salon, flower shop, optical shop and a military clothing store. There are also fast food restaurants located in the mini-mall. The commissary is medium sized and full service.