A team of six Army personnel landed in Austin, Texas, on July 13 to establish a beachhead for the new Futures Command, which will bring the service’s entire modernization apparatus under a single commander.
Austin won out because it boasts “talent, the entrepreneurial spirit and access to key partners” as well as “the quality of life our people desire and a cost of living they can afford,” Army Secretary Mark Esper said July 13 during a press conference at the Pentagon.
Austin was featured on an initial list of about 150 cities that generally met the Army’s criteria for access to academia, technical innovation, industry and affordability.
It then rose to the top of the final five to host what will eventually be about 500 personnel and an organization on par with the Army’s three other major commands. The other four finalists were Raleigh, N.C., Boston, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.
“I’m certain that Austin is the right location for Army Futures Command, yet this selection was a nonetheless difficult and weighty choice among a number of America’s greatest cities,” Esper said.
Cities were scored based on proximity to industry and workers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, private sector innovation, academic and research-and-development investment, quality of life, cost of living and civic support, according to Undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy.
He and Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville personally visited all five finalist cities to meet with local, state and congressional officials to discuss how each metropolitan “ecosystem” could support the Army’s needs.
“We do not have time to build this ecosystem,” McCarthy said. “It needed to be ready immediately and, in fact, we have a team in route as I speak.”
“Meeting the purpose of Army Futures Command requires us to move from behind the walls of traditional posts and forts and place ourselves in the middle of an urban center,” McCarthy added. “This is where collaboration, networking and innovation is happening daily at rates that cannot be duplicated on an Army post or industrial park.”
McCarthy said officials representing all five cities and states “went out of their way and bent over backwards” to accommodate the Army’s needs.
Texas did offer incentives for the Army to locate in Austin, McCarthy said. He would not comment on the details, but said the Army is working through “implementation.”
AFC headquarters eventually will host about 500 uniformed and civilian Army personnel and will be on par with the service’s other major commands: Army Materiel Command; Army Forces Command; and Training and Doctrine Command.