The Army’s new Futures Command (AFC) in downtown Austin, Texas is open for business following a Friday ceremony where the new command’s leader said the effort to bring the service’s entire modernization apparatus under one operation will ensure the force is “more effective and more lethal.”

Gen John “Mike” Murray, commander of AFC,  joined senior Army leadership breaking ground at the new command’s headquarters, which will bring together non-traditional industry partners to develop future warfighting concepts and combat systems needed to match the growing capabilities of strategic competitors such as China and Russia.

Gen. John Murray, commander of Army Futures Command
Gen. John Murray, commander of Army Futures Command

“From this location we will provide the unity of command and unity of effort that will bring the concepts, requirements, science & technology, research, development, testing & engineering and acquisition communities together to ensure the United States Army remains the preeminent ground combat force in the world forever,” Murray said during his remarks at the ceremony.

Murray, who previously served deputy chief of staff for programs, G-8, was confirmed by the Senate last week (Defense Daily, August 21).

Gen. Mark Milley, Army chief of staff, said officials spent two years on the operational design of Futures Command, which is expected to include around 500 uniformed and civilian Army personnel and be on par with Material Command, Forces Command and Training and Doctrine Command.

AFC officials will focus on development and acquisition efforts for the Army’s six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, tactical network, air and missile defense and soldier lethality.

“We know robots are coming on very, very quickly in the commercial sector and they’re likely to have significant military application. We know artificial intelligence is here. We know there’s a multitude of emerging technologies that are going to have, whether we like it or not, impact on the conduct of military operations,” Milley said.

Milley said AFC’s success will be determined on its ability to deliver the capabilities needed to meet the “changing character or war,” an area he said the Army has fallen behind over the last 17 years.

Army leadership selected Austin as the location for AFC headquarters in July, citing the city’s innovative technology industrial base and start-up culture (Defense Daily, July 13).

“Army Futures Command represents our commitment to modernize the Army to ensure we are prepared to fight and win every future conflict. Locating it here in Austin demonstrates the type of bold change needed to excel in today’s complex environment,” Mark Esper, secretary of the Army, said during his remarks. “We searched for a location that had the right combination of top-tier academic talent, cutting edge industry and an innovative private sector.”

Esper called the establishment of AFC the most significant Army reorganization since 1973, when TRADOC was stood up.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) also called the University of Texas system a “cornerstone partner” of Futures Command.

“Austin and the University of Texas have become the epicenter of innovation and transformative technology,” Abbott said.