The National Nuclear Security Administration has named Steve Asher, a retired Air Force colonel and former Spokane, Wash., Target store manager, as its acting head of nuclear security.
Asher served 33 years in the Air Force, including 10 as a nuclear security expert with the Air Force Office of the Inspector General, according to news reports. He also was commander of Malmstrom Air Force Base's 341st Security Forces Group in Montana, where he was in charge of security for 200 intercontinental ballistic missiles. According to some reports, Asher got less than glowing reviews in that role; the facility failed a security inspection some five months after his departure.
In his new job as chief, Asher will be overseeing, among others, the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Y-12, you will remember, was the target of three elderly protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, who last July went undetected as they cut through perimeter fences and defaced a building housing high-grade uranium.
That breach has cost taxpayers about $15 million in direct costs so far, OakRidger.com reports the NNSA as saying. That includes security modifications and additions and additional personnel. The cost is probably higher, OakRidger reported, as investigation costs and refresher training were not part of the $15 million estimate.