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Former Target Manager Now Acting Chief of Defense Nuclear Security

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Steve Asher

Steve Asher

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) continues to make leadership changes in the wake of the spectacular security failure that allowed an 82-year-old nun and two accomplices to break into the Y-12 National Security Complex in 2012.

Retired Air Force Colonel Steve Asher has been named acting Associate Administrator for Defense Nuclear Security/Chief of Defense Nuclear Security at the NNSA, according to the Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor, which means he is in charge of all nuclear weapons sites around the country. According to the Monitor, Asher began working at the NNSA at the end of 2012 as a security consultant and will now replace Brigadier General Sandra Finan, who left the agency to head the Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base. Finan replaced Doug Fremont, who was reassigned after the July 2012 break-in at Y-12.

While in the Air Force, Asher was the Group Commander and Chief of Police for the 341st Space Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. Malmstrom is one of the country’s three intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) bases. He retired in July 2008, and subsequently the 341st Space Wing at Malmstrom failed security tests including force-on-force tests, designed to measure how the base handles and protects nuclear weapons.

After leaving Malmstrom, it would seem that Asher had left the nuclear security world behind when he became the manager of a Target store in Spokane, Washington, the Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor reported on January 29. A few years ago, Asher was talking about Black Friday deals, last year he was asked to consult on security management changes at the NNSA, and now he is the acting Chief of Defense Nuclear Security.

The NNSA is undoubtedly in need of management changes. Now, in particular, the NNSA will need strong, competent leaders to pull them out of the security mess they’ve been floundering in for years. Asher’s got a lot to fix. If he doesn’t, he just might be the next NNSA security Chief with a target on his back.

Image from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

By: Lydia Dennett
Investigator, POGO

lydia dennett Lydia Dennett is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Lydia handles whistleblower intake and works on nuclear safety and security at the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Nuclear Security, Nuclear Weapons Complex Oversight, Y-12 /Oak Ridge National Lab

Authors: Lydia Dennett

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