Conversations at BSC explores North Dakota as a nuclear power
Posted on 3/8/2011
BSC President Larry C. Skogen (left) and Clay Jenkinson
Bismarck State College continues its Conversations at BSC humanities series with how North Dakota became tied to the frontline of the Cold War against the Soviet Union.
Scholar Clay Jenkinson and Bismarck State College President Larry C. Skogen will dialogue at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 13, in BSC's Sidney J. Lee Auditorium, Schafer Hall.
Their program, "Third Largest Nuclear Power: North Dakota and the Cold War," explores the atomic age and how the state's two Strategic Air Command bases could have made North Dakota the third most powerful nation, if it had seceded from the U.S. in the 1970s.
From 1963 to 1998, North Dakota housed 300 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), classified numbers of nuclear bombs, and air-launched cruise missiles to be delivered from U.S. Air Force bases near Minot and Grand Forks. These defense bases were created after WWII to enforce the U.S. policy of "containment" to thwart potential Soviet aggression beyond its borders. As a deterrent, the U.S. expanded its nuclear technology that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima and ended WWII.
The only unit trained to deliver such destruction was the 509th Bomb Group in Roswell, N.M., who flew the atomic payload to Japan. From this unit, the Strategic Air Command evolved, the most powerful military organization in human history, and armed North Dakota.
Jenkinson has conducted in-depth research on Robert Oppenheimer, lead bomb developer in New Mexico. Skogen served as a missile launch officer in the 509th Strategic Missile Squadron (successor of the 509th Bomb Group) and as an operations officer in the ICBM squadron in Wyoming.
The 2010-11 Conversations at BSC humanities series concludes May 15. Visit the Conversations at BSC website at bsctalk.com or contact BSC Continuing Education, Training and Innovation at 224-5600 for more information.