Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I want to join you in welcoming our nominees this morning.  I appreciate their flexibility, along with the cooperation of our colleagues, as we continue to do the important work of the Committee under these challenging circumstances.

I would like to thank the families of our nominees.  General Hokanson is joined today by his wife, Kelly, and they are the proud parents of Victoria, an Air Force Space Operations Officer; Danny, an Army Special Forces Officer; and McKinnon, an Army Infantry Officer serving in the Ranger Regiment.  General Perna’s family is not here in the room, but I would like to acknowledge his wife, Susan; their son Cody, who is a Navy Lieutenant; and their son Ryan, who is a Department of Navy civilian.  Thank and your families you all for your support and sacrifices.

Lieutenant General Hokanson, you have been nominated to be the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and comes to us with many qualifications for the position.  Currently serving as the Director, Army National Guard, you have also served as the  Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Deputy Commander of NORTHCOM, and as the Adjutant General of Oregon.  You check every box one would want for a nominee for this position.

The Chief of the National Guard Bureau is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and is a principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense, through the Chairman, on matters involving the non-Federalized National Guard forces in support of homeland defense and civil support missions.  In this role, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau plays a critical role in facilitating and mediating the interests of the states with the mission and programs of the Department of Defense. 

The unique role of the National Guard has been more visible than ever in the past few months.  In March, members of the Gard were called to assist the healthcare system as the coronavirus pandemic swept the country.  While on the frontlines of the pandemic, they have risked their own health and the infection rates of the Guard have been high.  We thank these Guard members for their sacrifice and dedication.

While COVID-19 is still a very real threat that we are battling, many Guard members have also been called in recent weeks to assist governors and law enforcement during recent nationwide protests.  For this mission, the Guard has had to strike a fine balance between performing their duties while ensuring that they do not engage in any unlawful acts or even the perception of unlawful acts against the citizens of our nation. 

Recent weeks show just how difficult the position of Chief of the National Guard Bureau is and will remain perhaps through your tenure in the position.  Lieutenant General Hokanson, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how you plan to approach this job in these trying times. 

General Perna, you have been nominated to serve as the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership created to develop, manufacture, and distribute a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to the American people by January 2021.  You bring an important skill set and expertise to this endeavor, having served your entire career as an Army logistician.  Notably, you most recently served as the Commander of the Army Materiel Command, overseeing more than 190,000 military, civilian, and contractor employees and managing a global supply chain that provides material and sustainment to Army forces around the world.

General Perna, I want to commend you for being within weeks of retirement and yet you did not hesitate to accept another position, and a challenging one at that.  The Committee, and indeed the entire country, are still waiting for more details about Operation Warp Speed.  We are interested in hearing from you about what role the Defense Department will play in this effort, the resources it will need, and the way in which a vaccine will be equitably distributed among the American people, to include DOD military and civilian personnel.

I look forward to hearing from both the nominees.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.