Since its inception, Army Futures Command was characterized as a modernization command when its standup was first announced by the acting secretary of the Army and chief of staff in October 2017, according to an Army release.
Since that first announcement, Army Futures Command has marched smartly to meet its mission. Eight Cross Functional have been organized led by leaders from the requirements, acquisition, contracting and sustainment communities, who report directly to the under secretary and vice chief of staff of the Army.
The CFTs' primary focus are on the Army's six modernization priorities: the development of improved long-range precision fires, a next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift platforms, a mobile and expeditionary Army network, air and missile defense capabilities, and Soldier lethality, said Army Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee last December.
The other two CFTs are synthetic training and assured position, navigation and timing.
"Mindful of past failures, the Army will ensure that technological solutions are mature before we begin a program of record," Esper testified said. "This includes a threat-based strategy that has aligned 80 percent of the Army's science and technology funding requests against the six modernization priorities."
Esper said the process for getting requirements met will be streamlined consisting of an iterative process including prototype development; demonstration and testing; and evaluation. If the evaluation results in failure, then that three-step cycle will be repeated until a successful outcome is attained, followed by production and fielding decisions. Success, he added, could just be getting to the 80 percent solution on a requirement.
The secretary also listed a number of other modernization efforts the Army is focusing on, which include administrative and personnel policies.
In the past, personnel turnovers within programs of record have been a concern, Esper said. To ensure a program maintains momentum and focus, program managers' tenures will be aligned with critical program milestones.
The Army has also written eight directives intended to improve the capability and materiel development process by refining how requirements are generated, simplifying the contracting and sustainment processes, and evaluating progress through metrics, he explained.
Finally, he said that the Army has "reinvigorated" its Requirements Oversight Council.
In lockstep with this effort, the Army is strengthening its talent management efforts, which includes more fellowships with industry, as well as more broadening assignments for civilians and Soldiers.
The Army is also making it easier for industry, particularly small, innovative businesses, to assist the Army in modernization efforts.
Austin, Texas was chosen for Army Futures Command's headquarters location after a review of the top 150 research institutes in the U.S., said Gen. John M. Murray, AFC's commanding general. It also ranked high in critical technology fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, engineering, systems developers, and quality of life.
The CFTs, that make up AFC are strategically scattered across the U.S. where it makes sense to have located them, Murray said Oct. 10, 2018 at the United States Army's National Partner Luncheon. There's a lot of value to not moving them to Austin, because connections have already been established, people aren't worried about moving, and the Army is not having to re-hire personnel, he added.
Austin will contain probably less than 5 percent of AFC personnel, Murray said. A large chunk of U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center, which will be renamed Futures and Concepts when it falls under AFC, and will remain at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which falls under AFC, will stay at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, with its Army Research Laboratories spread out across the U.S.
While AFC is located in downtown Austin, other partner organizations have also set up shop in offices on the fifth floor of the Capital Factory building, where AFC HQ is located. They include the Defense Innovation Unit and the Air Force's AFWERX. Those organizations, along with AFC's parallel unit, Army Applications Laboratory, foster a culture of innovation, Murray explained.
In less than 12 months, the CFTs "have validated our approach by producing solutions that are rapid delivery to our Soldiers, and in most cases, cutting the traditional requirements to acquisition timeline significantly, in some cases, years off the traditional acquisition timeline," Murray said.
The aim is to expand the Future Command’s reach across the U.S., to work with a variety of small businesses, innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors, venture capitalists, academic institutions and the defense industry, Murray said.
"We intend to develop the technologies and solutions that will enable us to modernize the force quickly, effectively and cost effectively, wherever and whenever they might be," Murray said. "We will harness advances in artificial intelligence and big data analysis to quickly process information and identify trends that will shape modernization efforts."
ARCIC realigns from TRADOC to AFC
Following Murray’s realignment announcement in October, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command transitioned and re-designated the Army Capabilities Integration Center to Army Futures Command as the Futures and Concepts Center in a ceremony Dec. 7, 2018.
The transition to AFC marks a big step in the Army's modernization effort, and brings the 15-year history for the former U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command subordinate to a close, according to an Army release.
Established as the Futures Center, Oct. 1, 2003, and re-designated as ARCIC by Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey in 2006, ARCIC has held the responsibility for determining and integrating force requirements and synchronizing Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities and Policy solutions across the Army.
Today, ARCIC serves as the single organization within the Army charged with seeking a proactive, synchronized and integrated process for future Army capabilities. Additionally, ARCIC also serves as the lead Army agency for joint agency and service capabilities integration, the Army said.
ARCIC developed the concepts that enabled the Army to adapt and deploy to two separate theaters of war at the same time, and in the last four years ARCIC has helped create and advance the Multi-Domain Operations 1.5 Concept as it moves from concept to operations," said Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, TRADOC commanding general at the transition ceremony.
Unity of Effort: “Forge the Future”
The Army Futures Command now officially has a shoulder sleeve insignia and distinctive unit insignia that its Soldiers will wear while they work toward modernizing the Army, according to an Army release.
At its centerpiece, the shoulder patch and unit patch feature a golden anvil in tribute to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower’s personal coat of arms displayed a blue-colored anvil.
The command's motto "Forge the Future" is also displayed below the anvil on the unit insignia, while both the patch and unit insignia have black and white stripes stretching outward from the anvil.
"Symbols mean things just like words do," said Robert Mages, the command's acting historian. "It's a reminder to the Soldiers that wear the patch of the mission that they've been assigned and of the responsibilities that come with that mission."
A patch ceremony took place Dec. 7 during the transfer of authority of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, ARCIC, to the Army's newest major command.
Since last year, the four-star command has been at the heart of the most significant Army reorganization effort since 1973, the Army said.
The patch and unit insignia represent the command's most recent move toward full operational capability, which is expected summer 2019.
Andrew Wilson, a heraldic artist at The Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, worked with command leadership since last December to finalize the designs.
The anvil represents fortitude, determination and perseverance. The black, white and gold resemble the colors of the U.S. Army.
Until the new patch was created, Soldiers in Army Futures Command wore a variety of patches on their sleeves. Those assigned to ARCIC, for instance, wore the Army Training and Doctrine Command patch and those in research laboratories had the Army Materiel Command patch.
Now, the golden anvil has forged them all together, the Army said.
"It's a symbol of unity—unity of effort, unity of command," said Mages, the historian. "We no longer report to separate four-star commanders. We now report to one commander whose sole focus is the modernization of our Army."
For more information, visit:
• Army Research Lab
• Army News Service
• Army Futures Command