It’s official: The Army Futures Command will be headquartered in Austin, the service announced Friday.
The Army chose Austin because of its “quality of life and proximity to commercial technology, research and development, and academic innovation,” it said a video posted Friday. Army Futures Command, as Army Secretary Mark Esper described it in remarks later from the Pentagon, is “consolidating the Army’s entire modernization process under one roof.”
One of the factors driving the decision to create the command, Esper said, is recognizing that in today’s environment the Army needs to be able to design, develop, test and procure more quickly and more affordably than it has in the past.
The command will be focused around the Army’s six modernization areas, one of which is developing the Army network.
The Army chose Austin for the command’s home “because it not only possessed the talent, the entrepreneurial spirit, and access to key partners we are seeking, but also because it offers the quality of life our people desire, and a cost of living they can afford,” he said.
While he trusts Austin is the right choice, he said the selection process among a number of cities was difficult.
The Army started with 150 prospective cities before narrowing down to five it visited: Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Raleigh.
Army Futures Command isn’t the only forward-focused military organization to bet on Austin. AFWERX opened a new hub last month in Austin. It joined the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, at Capital Factory, a co-working space in Austin.
The announcement adds to the connection between Texas and the military, Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday in a statement.
“The legacy of America’s freedom depends in part on the ability of our Armed Forces to remain at the forefront of technological advancement, expand our military’s power to assess threats, and modernize our defense,” he said. “The State of Texas is proud to partner with the U.S. Army in establishing the Futures Command to harness the cutting-edge technologies needed to build an innovative, research-based foundation for our national defense.”
The Army says establishing this new fourth command is the “most significant” reorganization effort it’s undertaken since 1973.
“This is a big year for the Army because we believe that we need to significantly reform the way the Army does research and development, testing and evaluation, procurement, and everything else that contributes to the modernization process,” Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army said, in the announcement.
The new four-star command officially began operations July 1, according to the announcement.
“The command is expected to assess the future operational environment, emerging threats, and new technologies in order to develop and deliver concepts, requirements, future force designs, and modern materiel solutions to meet our Soldiers’ wartime needs,” it said.
The Army said it’s shooting for the command to reach “full operational capability” around summer 2019, by which point the headquarters would have about 500 personnel.