REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- For nearly four years, Army Materiel Command’s top leader has focused on operationalizing the AMC enterprise to concentrate the command’s efforts on output, amid significant organization structure changes and evolving Army requirements.
Gen. Gus Perna, AMC commanding general, will pass the colors July 2 to Lt. Gen. Ed Daly, who will be promoted to the rank of four-star general in a private ceremony before the change of command. When Perna took the reins in 2016, he committed to ensuring the command, its subordinate units and capabilities would be synchronized and integrated in support of Army readiness.
"I am convinced that if we focus our efforts and capabilities on what is important, and we hold ourselves accountable while working as part of the greater Army team -- the total Army team -- there will be no mission that we cannot accomplish," Perna said nearly four years ago.
Since that day, Perna has led the command through some of AMC’s greatest organizational and mission changes as the Army underwent its largest restructuring since World War II.
In the early months of his command, Perna initiated a major realignment across AMC, known to employees as Shape the Fight. The initiative reorganized certain staff functions to better synchronize, integrate and deliver readiness, in line with Army senior leader’s priorities and ongoing reform efforts.
“Our collective goal must be to have 100 percent of the people doing 100 percent of the right work across our enterprise," Perna said.
In 2019, AMC continued to change as it transitioned its research mission to the newly formed Army Futures Command with the realignment of the Research, Development and Engineering Command. However, the command grew in size and responsibility with the integration of three additional missions -- Installation Management, Medical Logistics and Financial Management, and the AMC workforce more than doubled from 63,000 Soldiers, civilians and contractors to nearly 190,000 around the world.
These changes were important for posturing one Army command to be responsible for readiness of the Strategic Support Area within Multi-Domain Operations, Perna said.
"Multi-Domain Operations require us to effectively generate combat power, quickly project our forces, and then sustain systems and formations for extended durations along multiple dispersed routes, against an enemy focused on disrupting our abilities," said Perna. "Army Materiel Command has reorganized and reshaped to ensure readiness of the Strategic Support Area, where military might is generated, projected and sustained during the fight.”
One such area AMC is taking the lead is Installation readiness. With the assumption of the Installation Management mission, AMC leadership changed the narrative about Army posts, camps and stations.
“Installations are so much more than just where Soldiers and families live,” Perna said. “It is where our Soldiers train, where they mobilize and deploy from, and where they conduct the day-to-day business of the Army. All of those functions require logistics and sustainment, and fit within AMC’s core competencies.”
In addition, AMC has taken steps to ensure it is taking care of the Army’s number one priority - people. Through Soldier, Civilian and Family readiness initiatives the command is working to increase quality of life across the Army and is responsible for four of the five Quality of Life priority initiatives set by the Chief of Staff of the Army: Housing, Child Care, Spouse Employment, and PCS Moves.
“We are committed to delivering the best programs and services to our Soldiers, civilians and families,” said Perna. “Our Soldiers and civilians join our team with the confidence that we will take care of them. We will not let them down.”
Perna’s commitment to enabling these strategic focus areas, along with the AMC’s five other focus areas -- Industrial Base readiness, Munitions readiness, Strategic Power Projection readiness, Supply Availability and Equipment readiness; and Logistics Information readiness -- aligned the command to best support Army strategic readiness.
“Strategic readiness is why AMC exists,” said Perna. “While combat troops have always been the foundation of the Army, our strategic advantage has been our ability to mobilize, deploy, move and sustain the force.”
In his final months at AMC, Perna faced a new challenge, addressing the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on both the workforce and the mission, while participating in the whole-of-government response. Through it all, his emphasis has been three things -- ensuring the health and safety of the workforce, stopping the spread of the virus and accomplishing AMC’s mission.
“We can’t lose sight of our role in this fight or our mission to support Soldiers around the world,” Perna said. “We must always be ready as an enterprise; there is no other acceptable option. We may not be in combat, but make no mistake, we are at war. This is an attack and winning matters.”
Through all these changes, the hallmarks of Perna’s leadership has been the philosophy of following a regular battle rhythm with standards and discipline, the importance of being able to see yourself as a command, knowing your capabilities and your areas for improvement, and focusing the workforce’s time and energy on doing the right things for the right effects.
“We have focused on how we support and project our force in these challenging times, and how we ensure our efforts are directly linked to the Soldier on the battlefield,” he said. “In war, the difference between being ready and reacting will be measured by the number of lives lost.”
In his next assignment, Perna will serve as chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed, a whole-of-government effort to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics (medical countermeasures).
“It’s a tough task, but I promise to do more than my best; I promise to do what is required to get us to the finish line,” Perna said.