Lab physicist receives DoD award

Aug. 1, 2016
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Lab employee Craig Wuest received one of the top civilian awards from the U.S. Department of Defense – the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. (Download Image)

Lab physicist receives DoD award

Lab employee Craig Wuest has received one of the top civilian awards from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

A citation accompanying the award - the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service – highlights Wuest’s work to strengthen DoD’s nuclear survivability posture and his role as executive secretary for the Defense Science Board Task Force on Deterring, Preventing and Responding to the Threat or Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Wuest’s award was presented to him last month by Vahid Majidi, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters.

A 33-year LLNL employee, Wuest has worked for the past three-and-a-half years as a senior scientific adviser to the DoD’s assistant secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.

One of Wuest’s key assignments was to provide support in strengthening programs to harden DoD’s mission-critical systems and ensure the survivability of conventional and strategic forces in the event of a nuclear or electromagnetic pulse attack.

Part of his work also involved serving as a Laboratory liaison and providing technical expertise about LLNL’s nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon life extension programs, including the W80-4 warhead that will be carried by the long-range stand-off cruise missile under development by the Air Force.

Wuest's citation and medal.
“It was amazing to work in the Pentagon and especially to work closely with the military and civilian personnel who are responsible for maintaining our national security,” Wuest said. “The job allowed me to interact with senior leaders in the Pentagon, the Congress, the National Security Council and the White House.”

Wuest believes that his previous experiences working with the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) and with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency assisted him in the transition to his job with DoD.

Another experience that he believes better prepared him to work on policy-related issues was his completion of the LLNL-Texas A&M University National Security Leadership Program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, before starting his assignment at the Pentagon.

His work at the DoD was performed under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, which allows Laboratory employees and others to act as federal employees with responsibilities to help develop policy and assist in making scientific and technical recommendations for national security.

Wuest will continue to serve through the end of 2016 as the executive secretary for the Defense Science Board WMD Task Force, as it prepares its final reports to be delivered to the Secretary of Defense.

During his career at LLNL, Wuest has held numerous positions as a research physicist and manager, including serving as an assistant project manager for the National Ignition Facility and as the deputy leader within Q Division of the former Nonproliferation, Arms Control and International Security Directorate (now Global Security), where he helped direct proliferation detection, nuclear weapon effects and defense system programs.

He will return to the Laboratory’s Global Security Principal Directorate in September, resuming his support staff role to the STRATCOM Strategic Advisory Group’s Science, Technology and Transformation Panel, which is chaired by former LLNL Director George Miller.

Wuest also hopes to apply his experience in Washington to help the Lab inform the next administration about nuclear weapons policy and to help develop new programs to support nuclear weapons operations and planning for the DoD.