U.S. Army Setting Up Futures Command in Tech-Savvy Texas Capital

Generals salute during an installation ceremony in 2011 at the U.S Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., one the Army's three major command headquarters. The Army, scouting large cities in 2018 to find a home for a fourth command headquarters, announced the final pick on Friday, July 13.
Jim R. Bounds/Associated Press

The U.S. Army is standing up the Army Futures Command in Austin, the capital of Texas, in its first major reorganization in more than forty years, Army leaders announced on Friday.

The new command will consolidate all Army efforts to prepare for war fighting, from planning to developing future combat systems. The Army had considered more than a hundred locations, but decided on Austin, Texas, since it is a growing tech hub close to top schools and affordable to live in.

“The Army made the right choice. The Austin Mega Region has 6,500 high-tech companies, an innovation ecosystem with 36 incubators and accelerators, and dozens of companies that supply all manner of advanced technology to our military. There are tens of thousands of students and hundreds of thousands of veterans in the area,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in a statement.

Army leaders during a press conference at the Pentagon said the Army is gearing up for potential wars in the future that will be fought with high-end technology, while still maintaining focus on current fights.

“The character of war is fundamentally changing … and whoever gets there first, will have unmatched lethality on the battlefield for years to come,” said Army Secretary Mark Esper at a Pentagon press conference. “That’s why this is so critical to get at, to make sure we can get there first.”

The Army Futures Command will consolidate the Army’s entire modernization process under one roof, and focus on developing critical technologies such as directed energy for air missile defense, hypersonics for long-range fires, and robotics for artificial intelligence for the next generation combat vehicle, Esper said.

“It will turn ideas into actions through experimenting, prototyping, and testing,” he said.

The command will ultimately have about 500 people by next summer, when the Army Futures Command is expected to be at full operating capability.

Army leaders said standing up a command in the middle of a major city will help it move outside of their comfort zones, and help spark a culture of innovation in the Army.

“Meeting the purpose of the Army Futures Command requires us to move from behind traditional forts and posts, and place ourselves in the middle of an urban center,” said Army Deputy Secretary Ryan McCarthy. “This is where collaboration, networking, and innovation is happening daily, at rates that cannot be duplicated on an Army post or on an industrial park.”

Leaders plan to have an office space downtown for senior leadership, and soldiers and civilians working in incubator hubs side-by-side with entrepreneurs and innovators.

“We will literally have soldiers and Army civilians right there with them and they will have the Army emblem right over their laptop,” McCarthy said.

He said the Army wants to work with start-ups, in addition to established companies. He noted that Bantam car company partnered with Ford to create the Jeep.

“We are resetting the institution, the enterprise, to produce results … in order to set the Army up for future combat,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said.

Esper said the command will need to be adaptable to changing conditions, even after it is set up.

“If this organization does not live, grow, learn, then we’re missing something, and that’s what we’re trying to build,” he said.


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