An assistant professor at Rogers State University has published a book that documents the United States’ development of nuclear ballistic missiles, as well as their fall from favor following the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Dr. David Bath, assistant professor in the history and political science department, published “Assured Destruction: Building the Ballistic Missile Culture of the U.S. Air Force”. The topic began as a dissertation for his PhD.


The Air Force rapidly worked to develop and build a nuclear ballistic missile in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which the nation believed would be the decisive factor in winning an anticipated war with the Soviet Union. This power struggle and the personal stories of the missileers who served during the Cold War is the synopsis of Bath’s book.


“Missileers are the most powerful people in the world. They can launch up to 50 nuclear missiles carrying several warheads each, and at the same time, they are the least powerful people as they have no authority to decide if or when the missiles are launched,” Bath said.


Bath’s early career in the Air Force as a missile launch officer enabled him to lean on his own personal experiences while conducting research. He spoke with several missileers from the Association of Air Force Missileers who served during the late 1950s and early 1960s. He also utilized documents from the National Archives, the Air Force Historical Research Agency and the Eisenhower Presidential Archives.


“In my research, I found a lot of political intrigue, both at the national level and within the military services, as intercontinental ballistic missiles were being developed and placed into operation,” Bath said. “This was a story that had never been told and I thought people would be interested in knowing it.”


The plans for his next book are in motion, and the topic will be the creation of the U.S. intelligence community.


“Following my time as a missile launch officer, I worked in intelligence. Many people believe that the intelligence community was designed to be the most efficient, most effective organization possible,” Bath said. “However, it was pieced together as problems arose. It is a jumble of organizations, mostly falling under the Department of Defense, that work primarily because of the outstanding people who do the job. It is time to tell their story.”


Bath began teaching at RSU in 2018.


RSU’s history and political science department offers several associate and bachelor’s degrees to students with multiple opportunities for degree specialization. The institution was the first university in Oklahoma to offer a degree in military history.


“Assured Destruction: Building the Ballistic Missile Culture of the U.S. Air Force” is available at the Stratton Taylor Library as well for purchase at online outlets.


Information submitted by Jennifer Smith of Rogers State University.