By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Aug. 6, 2015 – With responsibility for surety of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is a “national treasure,” Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said today.
Touring the lab for the first time since he took office as the DoD deputy secretary, Work said Livermore is one of three such treasures that work with the nation’s nuclear program -- in addition to Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories in Washington, D.C.
The deputy noted the words of President Barack Obama, who said the United States needs to have a safe, effective and reliable nuclear deterrent.
Livermore Central to Safe Stockpile
“Livermore is central to making sure that stockpile is safe and reliable,” Work told reporters on his return from a two-day trip to Northern California.
The California facility, he added, is “responsible for the surety of the weapons we have in our stockpile … they do tests, designs and are training the next generation of nuclear weapons specialists.”
Work added that the Department of Energy’s Livermore employees are “unbelievably talented.”
Work and Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, were briefed by the lab’s senior leaders and took a classified tour of Livermore’s key sectors of interest to DoD, including weapons and complex integration in the National Security Weapons Vault, the National Ignition Facility, home of the world’s largest laser.
Talks With Perry
Following the lab tour, Work and Kendall had a working lunch with former defense secretary William J. Perry, who served under President Bill Clinton’s administration from February 1994 to January 1997.
“Secretary Perry is an unbelievable font of knowledge,” Work said, adding that the 19th defense secretary was a key figure in DoD’s 1970s technology -- from working on the second offset strategy, development of the stealth bomber, bringing cruise missiles to the Navy, and introducing guided munitions to the Army.
“We asked him, ‘What do you think is going on in terms of technology, where do you see the third offset strategy going, what’s he worried about in [technology], what trends does he see?’” Work said of the discussions with Perry. “Just being able to sit down and talk with him … he’s just a great American.”
The visit to the Livermore lab visit and the nuclear stockpile comprised one segment of the California trip, Work said, which also centered on private industry and government dual-use innovation, in addition to observing a large-scale exercise at Fort Irwin, as the Army shifts its focus toward hybrid threats in warfare to counter a range of contingencies the military could face in the future.