Defense

Army Futures Command to make its home in Austin

PHOTO CREDIT US ARMY 

Army Futures Command, an effort to consolidate its modernization efforts under one organization, will be headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Austin was chosen in part because of the cost of living, proximity to academic institutions, startups and established tech firms, STEM workers, incubator hubs and research and development investments.

"We do not have time to build this ecosystem, and in fact need to be ready immediately," McCarthy said during a news conference with senior leadership July 13. “This restructuring is helping us build an Army that can move at the speed of innovation."

"We need to be able to give our soldiers the tools, the weapons, the equipment they need when they need it. And in this day and age, that means more quickly than we’ve done in the past," Army Secretary Mark Esper said.

The key, he said, will be to build and foster a "fluid" culture that meshes with that of local tech companies.

"You look at the organization, you look at processes, you look at leaders, and over time as you develop wins, the culture starts to change. And that is the hardest thing to change, but that’s what we’re committed to doing," he said. "And the way you do that is to put the organization in an environment where such change, such a culture, already exists. They can help drive that cultural change forward."

In the past, operational and technical concepts weren’t linked, McCarthy said, and requirements often didn’t match what was technically feasible at the time, costing time and money.

AFC, however, aims to deliver product with speed and efficiency through a single commander overseeing force, design, concepts, research, development, testing and evaluation spending, prototyping and acquisition.

“We needed to achieve greater unity of effort and unity of purpose,” Esper said of moving parts of the Army modernization enterprise underneath AFC.

AFC is expected to reach full operating capability in 2019. Until then, the organization will likely undergo several changes, such as components being added and removed.  The Army hasn’t named a commander, but Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said one is under consideration.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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