WASHINGTON — Army General Gus Perna has been nominated to lead the nation's mission for a COVID-19 vaccine.
WUSA9 sat down with General Perna in February to discuss how he was fixing the rampant problems in military housing that our investigations uncovered. Now we're learning more about his role as the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed to "accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines."
After our housing investigation interview, military families told us they appreciated Perna's straight forward, if not blunt, way of speaking, and it appears he's continuing that during this global pandemic.
Perna has posted weekly Facebook videos to his command page updating the public on the fight against this "invisible enemy."
On the day he was named COO of Operation Warp Speed, he shot a message to his troops.
“Ok, good morning, team,” he said. “I'm in a different office today, not my normal one in Huntsville, Alabama, I'm up in Washington, DC.”
That afternoon, Perna joined President Trump in the Rose Garden, where the world learned about his new mission.
Looking at Perna's bio, this kind of appointment is not really surprising. He's spent much of his career in logistics for the Army. Right now, he leads a force of 190,000 and oversees the global supply chain for the Army.
It's an important experience, as the President has said when a vaccine is ready, the military would be enlisted to distribute it.
But it's not the only line on his resume that could make a difference here. Perna had a lead role in coordinating the massive drawdown in Iraq, which he discussed in a post from May 1.
“At the end of the day, the 7,000 soldiers that ran convoys, that supported those soldiers that were on the front lines, that endangered themselves, took and understood the responsibility to serve -- that's what we're doing today," Perna said. "We're serving our nation.”
Perna explained he uses data to assess risk and make decisions during the coronavirus pandemic. His video chats show he takes this virus seriously. Many people can probably relate to an anecdote he shared when he arrived in Washington for the announcement.
“I immediately broke out my wipes, like a professional cleaner,” he described. “I did it once and I was pretty comfortable that I did it well. I just couldn't help myself in doing it two, three, four, five, six more times.”
Before joining the President, he left those in his command with a message, one he might take with him to his next post.
“Maintain the due-diligence and determination and the persistence to fight against COVID, both personally and professionally,” he added. “Don't let up now.”
The full Senate still has to confirm General Perna to the new post. He's already testified in front of the Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill.