In July, the U.S. Army announced it would bring its Army Futures Command to Austin–using the educational and innovative resources present in the Texas capital city to help the Army bring modernized weapons to its forces.
On Friday, as the Army Futures Command celebrated its official presence in Austin with an activation ceremony, military leaders provided more details on exactly what the new command will deliver.
According to U.S. Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley, Friday’s ceremony begins a phase the Army calls “IOC” – Initial Operational Capability – under the command of Gen. John M. Murray.
“It exists. We have a building. We have a commander and there’s some skeleton staff,” Milley said.
Murray will have six months to sort out logistics, hire staff and get the command off the ground. In another six months–one year from now–Milley said the Army Futures Command is expected to produce “outputs” for the military.
What would those outputs look like? U.S. Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy said one of the products on the fastest track is night vision display. McCarthy said the Army worked with video game companies to design improved night vision goggles–adding an interface that could make the goggles less bulky, add an interface for maps, or include synthetic vision for soldiers to train.
“In the next 24 to 36 months we can deploy this capability,” McCarthy said.
However, McCarthy cautioned patience as the Army treads new ground.
“This command will be like no other we’ve had in the Army. We’re going to have to adjust. We also need the tech community to be patient, we hope that they will,” he said.
U.S. Army Secretary Mark Esper said the measure of success for the Army Futures Command will be Murray and his team delivering modern weapons on time and on schedule.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t fail along the way. We will fail. I expect we’ll fail, because that means we’re trying,” Esper said. “We want to fail early and fail cheap.”
The activation ceremony included speeches from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, U.S. Senator John Cornyn and Austin Mayor Steve Adler. Also in attendance were U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and U.S. Representatives John Carter, Roger Williams and Lloyd Doggett.
Adler said the Army Futures Command coming to Austin was a matter in which city and state politicians were aligned.
“We have a real strong ally in the Army that’s here because of the Austin culture, because we help drive innovation here in an environment here that is encouraging. That’s why the Army is here. We welcome that partnership and that opportunity,” he said.