By Sharon Watkins Lang (SMDC/ARSTRAT Command Historian)November 9, 2017
Forty-five years ago on Nov. 9, the Army activated its newest post -- the Grand Forks Safeguard Tactical Site, located near Nekoma, North Dakota.
In an informal ceremony in the General Room of the Community Center at the Missile Site Radar site, Maj. Gen. Robert C. Marshall, commander U.S. Army Safeguard Systems Command, presented the Army Field Flag to Col. Mathew W. Hoey, commander of the Grand Forks Safeguard Tactical Site. As Marshall noted, the transfer of the flag symbolized the formal activation of the new post.
With this ceremony, the Safeguard site transitioned from a construction site managed by construction companies under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntsville Division, into a permanent military installation. As was explained during the ceremony, the change signaled "the start of a 'base operations support' function, which will essentially be a housekeeping and logistics operations to make the North Dakota installation a self-sustaining military post."
Hoey, as the installation commander, would oversee everything from housing, public affairs, financial and property management to the activation of the tactical and non-tactical facilities.
As a permanent military installation, the possibilities of growth for the installation were significant. This new designation allowed personnel offices to assign both military and civilian personnel on multi-year tours or on a permanent basis.
With the additional military personnel on the post, additional military activities would be added. The newspapers of the day highlighted the addition of a Post Exchange and concessions, athletic facilities, a chapel as well as other features found on a normal Army post.
Despite these changes, the Grand Forks Safeguard Tactical Site continued to report to the Safeguard System Command, in Huntsville, Alabama. Under the original schedule, this relationship would last until the construction was completed and equipment installed and tested. Once the equipment was operational, the plans called for the Safeguard Tactical Site to be transferred to the Army Air Defense Command. The anticipated transition date for the operational ballistic missile defense site was in late 1974.
Already home to two Air Force bases -- Minot and Grand Forks - the activation of the Safeguard Tactical Site made the Safeguard Complex the first Army post in North Dakota.