"Missile silos all over the place"

Minuteman Missile Silo
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMinuteman Missile Silo - Credit: Spencer, Wikipedia
In 1960, the US Air Force decided to locate the first Minuteman installation on the high plains near Great Falls, Montana, at Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB). In the event of a nuclear accident or attack, the low population density near Malmstrom AFB would minimize civilian casualties. In addition, the region offered an established network of roads and, like much of the West, a large amount of easy-to-acquire public land.

The Air Force began constructing the Nation's first Minuteman missile field in March 1961. In the spring of 1962, the Associated Press reported that the Montana silos were being "rushed to completion," and that the first missiles, each loaded with "one megaton of death and destruction," would be ready by late summer. Air Force crews began lowering the weapons into the silos at the end of July, and Malmstrom AFB's first ten-missile flight was hurriedly activated on 27 October 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Minuteman missile is maintained on alert in an unmanned, hardened underground launch facility, covered by a 100-ton blast door which is blown off prior to missile launch. A launcher support building buried near the launch tube contains environmental control equipment and standby power sources. The missiles are deployed in flights of ten, controlled by a single, centrally-located launch control center (LCC) manned by a Missile Combat Crew.