By Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow | 21st Space Wing
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Air Force active duty enlisted Airmen and officers assigned to the 10th Space Warning Squadron at Cavalier Air Force Station, North Dakota have begun receiving assignment incentive pay of $700 a month as of Jan. 8, 2020, due to their unusual remote assignment circumstances.
The AIP is to help offset the cost of food since food options for personnel directly supporting Cavalier AFS are extremely limited. There are no on-base food options and off-base food and grocery options in the city of Cavalier and the surrounding communities are extremely limited.
According to a recent study, the average prices at the local grocery store, approximately 20 miles away, are 49 percent higher on the average staples than at Grand Forks AFB. Cavalier leadership is currently working to provide a hot meal option to Airmen.
“Airmen and their families assigned to Cavalier AFS experience persistent quality of life issues and this AIP will help offset the additional costs that families incur while stationed here, and help incentivize personnel to volunteer for and remain in career specialties associated with this austere and geographically remote location,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Durand 10th SWS commander. “The lack of major installation amenities, high operations tempo and remoteness of the surrounding community places a significant burden on Airmen and their families.”
The 10th SWS and its 33 Airmen, two Royal Canadian Air Force members, five civilians and 96 contractors, provide missile warning to defend the United States, and are essential to the space domain awareness mission, enabling space combat operations. The Airmen there operate the Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System providing critical missile warning and space domain awareness data in defense of North America and its allies.
Cavalier AFS is the only remote stateside installation in the Air Force — located 15 miles west of the city of Cavalier and 15 miles south of the Canadian border. Cavalier AFS is a 15-month unaccompanied or two-year accompanied tour. Personnel assigned to the 10th SWS are supported by the 319th Reconnaissance Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. The distance from Grand Forks AFB to Cavalier is approximately 90 miles through mostly isolated two-lane farmland roads.
“Cavalier lacks infrastructure similar to other installations where Airmen and their families can expect support and resources such as a commissary, an exchange, gas station, shoppette, Airman and Family Readiness Center, dining facility, child development center and medical and dental facilities,” Durand said.
“Bottom line — this was a team effort and a huge win for everyone stationed at Cavalier AFS and individuals who want to volunteer for this assignment,” Durand added.