On Monday (Aug. 29), Adm. Christopher W. Grady, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff — the nation’s second-highest-ranking military officer — visited the Laboratory to see firsthand the Lab’s vital technical leadership role within the national security enterprise as well as the Lab’s capabilities in supporting the nation’s nuclear modernization. Grady and senior Lab leadership toured the Plutonium Facility (PF-4) and the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility (DARHT), two sites integral to the Lab’s national defense mission. In the years ahead, PF-4 and DARHT and their committed workforce will play a key role in mitigating potential risks posed by an aging nuclear stockpile.
For the past 30 years, in the absence of nuclear testing, the United States has relied heavily on nonnuclear and subcritical experiments coupled with advanced computer modeling and simulations to evaluate the health and extend the lifetimes of America’s nuclear weapons. This approach is called stockpile stewardship, and was a central focus of Grady’s visit.
“The Laboratory’s state-of-the-art supercomputers, unique experimental facilities and dedicated staff enable the scientific and engineering analysis needed to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile,” said Laboratory Director Thom Mason.
Grady was briefed on how the innovative Stockpile Stewardship Program develops subcritical and nonnuclear experiments and advanced computer modeling and simulations to evaluate the health and extend the lifetimes of America’s nuclear weapons.
“During my time with the scientists and professionals working at Los Alamos, I watched American innovation unfold — they have been doing this work since the advent of the nuclear age, and they are the busiest they’ve been since the end of the Cold War,” said Grady. “Los Alamos National Lab and its workforce directly contribute to national defense through novel systems design, pit production and innovative scientific research.”
Grady’s visit was capped with a walkthrough of the nation’s nuclear weapons development, which was provided by Bob Webster, deputy Laboratory director for Weapons.
“We are continuously evaluating threats worldwide, and the modernization effort of our nuclear triad must be informed by our competitors’ advancements,” Grady concluded. “At the end of the day, our competitors simply do not have a workforce like the folks here at Los Alamos. The kind of talent and innovation you see embedded in the very culture of this Lab is what makes our entire national labs enterprise so essential to our national defense.”