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June 18, 2020

SASC Chairman Inhofe Opening Statement at Hearing for Military Nominees Generals Perna, Hokanson

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, delivered opening remarks today at a committee hearing on the nominations of Lieutenant General Daniel R. Hokanson, nominated to be Chief of the National Guard Bureau, and General Gustave F. Perna, nominated to be Chief Operating Officer of Project Warp Speed. 

As Prepared for Delivery: 

Good morning.  The Committee meets today to consider the nominations of:  Lieutenant General Daniel R. Hokanson to be Chief of the National Guard Bureau and General Gustave F. Perna to be Chief Operating Officer of Project Warp Speed.

Thank you both for being here today—particularly under the current circumstances our country is facing. We typically enjoy meeting the families of our nominees, but today’s hearing is anything but typical. Because of the requirement to practice social distancing, we are unable to accommodate the presence of all the families and friends in the hearing room. 

During times of crisis our nation turns to its leaders for solutions. For expertise. For reassurance.

You have both been nominated for positions at the forefront of our current challenges and as we consider your nominations, we’ll be looking to ensure you can provide the solutions, expertise, and reassurance needed in these circumstances.

Lieutenant General Hokanson – As our nation demands more from our National Guard, your extensive experience in the National Guard Bureau, NORTHCOM, and as a State Adjutant General will be essential. Across the country, tens of thousands of guardsmen are on the front lines of the coronavirus response. They deserve strong, measured, and mature leadership from their advocate on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  

General Perna – We’re facing down a virus that has tested our health system, our economy, our military, and every other part of our everyday life. President Trump has tasked you and a team of others with an ambitious mission to not only develop a vaccine, but also manufacture and distribute 300 million doses by January 2021. Your extensive experience in logistics and leading the U.S. Army Material Command will be key to complete this mission.

I speak for the Committee when I say that we appreciate your willingness to serve our country in these important roles and appear before us today.

It is standard for this committee to ask certain questions in order to exercise its legislative and oversight responsibilities.  But before I begin, General Perna, I commend the integrity you have shown in bringing to the Committee’s attention the fact that while continuing to serve in your current position as Commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command, you have ensured that AMC provided all necessary support to Operation Warp Speed, as directed. In addition, you have taken prudent steps to prepare for the new duties and responsibilities you would assume if confirmed to be Chief Operating Officer, Operation Warp Speed. The Committee has reviewed the information provided and deems your actions appropriate under these unusual circumstances. 

Throughout it all, we also have remained focused on ensuring that DOD has the authorities and resources it needs to implement the National Defense Strategy.

As senior leaders in the Department of Defense today, and in the positions for which you have been nominated, you have and would continue to play key roles—both in winning the great power competition and in taking care of our people. 

We look forward to hearing your views on these and other important issues.   

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