Nuclear triad symposium to be held in Minot

Minot will be the site next month of a nuclear triad symposium with former U.S. ambassadors, present and former military leaders and other high-level experts in that field as presenters.

“Sustaining the Triad: The Enduring Requirement of Deterrence” set for May 2-3 in the Grand International Inn is being hosted by the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce and Task Force 21, Minot’s base retention committee.

John MacMartin, president of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce, and Mark Jantzer, chairman of Task Force 21, said symposiums of this type normally are held in Washington, D.C., but this one will be in Minot where two of the three legs of the nuclear triad Minot Air Force Base’s intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic bombers are located. The third leg of the nuclear triad is the Navy’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Task Force 21, Minot’s base retention committee, has the task of trying to preserve the missions at Minot Air Force Base.

Jantzer said one of the things they observed was there is a rising debate, rather surprisingly on the heels of New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), that is sort of, in their view, a misinterpretation of what are good intentions.

“By that I mean, I think we all would agree, if there weren’t any nuclear weapons that might be an OK thing, but as the president said in his speech in Prague and unfortunately usually some people like to only take part of that but to paraphrase basically he said the goal is to get rid of nuclear weapons.

“But as long as there are nuclear weapons and given the situation in the world, the United States will always have a robust safe, secure nuclear deterrent,” Jantzer said, adding, “We probably aren’t going to see global zero in my lifetime.”

On the heels of that is the global zero report that was released, he said. He said then Chuck Hagel said in his confirmation hearing for secretary of defense, paraphrasing Hagel, “We really didn’t mean that that was an illustration. It wasn’t a recommendation. It shouldn’t be taken literally.”

“In that environment we felt there needs to be a forum, there needs to be voices who have professional creditability and who can speak to how we ought to approach this issue as a nation,” Jantzer said.

MacMartin added, “Since we’re home to two legs of the triad, we thought it was very important to have one of those conversations take place here.”

“That’s what led us to put this event together,” Jantzer said.

This past year the Minot Chamber hosted a similar symposium in Washington.

“We felt that was successful and decided we would do something similar but do it here at Minot Air Force Base where, as John points out, two legs of the triad exist side by side,” Jantzer said.

Ron Lehman II, a former U.S. ambassador and director of the Center for Global Security Research at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., is the keynote speaker for the May 3 program. His career includes serving as a U.S. chief negotiator on Strategic Offensive Arms (START I), and positions in the Department of Defense and White House.

Symposium speakers include:

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, of Washington, D.C., senior fellow for strategic studies and arms control at the Council on Foreign Relations who is the former commander and first commander of Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale AFB, La. He established and then led a new 23,000-person organization that merged responsibility for all U.S. nuclear-capable bombers and land-based missiles under a single chain of command. His military career includes serving as commander of the 91st Missile Group/91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB from January 1995 to August 1996.

Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, present commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, was the first vice commander of Air Force Global Strike Command from 2009-2011. As commander of Global Strike Command, he is responsible for organizing, training, equipping and maintaining all the U.S. ICBM and nuclear-capable bomber forces.

Retired Gen. Don Alston is the former commander of 20th Air Force. As the missile numbered Air Force for Global Strike Command, 20th Air Force is responsible for maintaining and operating the Air Force’s ICBM force.

Linton Brooks, a former U.S. ambassador, is an independent consultant on national security issues, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, D.C., a distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University, and an adviser to four of the U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories. He was the chief negotiator for START I and once headed the National Nuclear Security Adminstration,

Navy Vice Adm. Bill Burke is deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems. Prior, he was deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics.

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Smolen is the senior national security fellow in the Center for Global Security Research at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. During his Air Force career he was a Minuteman missile system crew member, instructor and evaluator with the 91st Strategic Missile Wing at Minot AFB from August 1974-January 1977.

Robert Joseph, a former ambassador who is originally from Williston, worked on arms control policy in both the State Department and the National Security Council during the George W. Bush presidency. After leaving the administration, he became a senior fellow at the National Institute for Public Policy. He has also served as an adviser to the Center for Security Policy.

Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak is assistant U.S. Air Force chief of staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration at Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He is responsible to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force for focus on nuclear deterrence operations. He will speak by video to symposium participants.

Peter Huessy is a senior fellow in national security affairs with the American Foreign Policy Council and founder and president of his own defense consulting firm, GeoStrategic Analysis. Since 1983, Huessy has hosted more than 1,500 congressional seminars on Capitol Hill dealing with missile defense, strategic nuclear modernization, strategic airlift, strategic bombers, proliferation, arms control , homeland, port and maritime security and defense policy.

Members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation also are expected to speak during the symposium.

About 100 people are expected to attend the symposium including representatives of the industry, civilians from Shreveport-Bossier City, La., Great Falls, Mont., and Cheyenne, Wyo., and representatives from submarine bases.

Barksdale AFB at Shreveport-Bossier City, is the only other base with B-52s besides Minot AFB’s 5th Bomb Wing.

Malmstrom AFB is near Great Falls and F.E. Warren AFB is near Cheyenne, Wyo., the other two operational missile units besides Minot AFB’s 91st Missile Wing.

On May 2, the events will include a meeting for ICBM contractors at Minot AFB and a tour for symposium participants of B-52 and Minuteman III ICBM facilities at the Minot base.