Los Alamos National Laboratory has announced that John Benner is the new associate Laboratory director for Weapons Production (ALDWP) effective Jan. 3, replacing Dave Eyler, who retired from the position in the fall. Benner has been executive officer for the Weapons program.
“John is a proven leader who can provide strategic vision, maintain stability, and meet deliverables for Weapons Production as we continue to ramp up our 30-pits-per-year and other important national security missions,” said Bob Webster, deputy Laboratory director for Weapons Programs. “With nearly 30 years of experience, John is respected across the nuclear security enterprise for his deep understanding of weapons engineering, particularly the relationship between the design and production agencies. Those skills, and that respect, are essential of the success of ALDWP as we continue production of war-reserve detonators and as we move into rate production of war-reserve pits.”
Diverse production portfolio
ALDWP and its 1,400 employees are responsible for a diverse production portfolio that includes the production and evaluation of plutonium pits, nuclear weapon detonators, and other non-nuclear components. ALDWP also oversees plutonium processing and disposition, manufacturing of power supplies for NASA deep space missions, surveillance, materials management, and waste operations.
“The scope of ALDWP’s work is vast; not only do we have the technical challenge of achieving pit first production and rate production, but we also have multiple ongoing programs of national importance that must be executed while the equipment and infrastructure for the pit mission is installed — all under the operational constraints of an active nuclear facility,” Benner said. “I am fortunate to be stepping into a role surrounded by a strong team of hardworking, dedicated people who help keep the mission moving forward.”
As the ALD for Weapons Production, Benner will work closely with others across the Laboratory and the entire nuclear weapons complex.
As executive officer for Weapon Programs, Benner is responsible to the deputy Laboratory director for Weapons for integrating and aligning activities across the weapons program and supports operational oversight of Weapons Programs operations.
From 2012 to 2017, Benner served as the Lab’s associate director for Weapon Engineering and Experiments and chief engineer for Nuclear Weapons. In these roles, Benner led all weapons engineering, explosive science and testing activities at the Laboratory. He oversaw the management and execution of all weapons modernization activities and the management of support for all Los Alamos stockpile systems.
From 2006 to 2012, Benner served as the Weapon Systems Engineering division leader, responsible for all weapons engineering activities at Los Alamos, including assessment, refurbishment, certification, and supporting R&D for Los Alamos–designed systems in the enduring stockpile. Benner also led the W76-1 warhead life extension program at Los Alamos during development engineering and into production engineering.
From 2019 to 2020, Benner was a senior technical advisor to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs. From 2017 to 2019, Benner was the vice president and chief operating officer for MSTS, the management and operating contractor for the Nevada National Security Site. In this role, Benner was responsible for operational and technical integration of all activities across the NNSS site.
Benner will begin his new role on Jan. 3, taking over from acting ALD David Dooley.