Fort Bragg troops will play role in new Futures Command
By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer | Published: July 28, 2018
FORT BRAGG (Tribune News Service) — North Carolina missed out on Futures Command, but the Army’s newest major command will still have a big impact on Fort Bragg troops, Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said.
McCarthy, who visited Fort Bragg on Thursday, spoke of the role that Futures Command — charged with leading the Army’s modernization efforts — will play and how that will likely affect local troops.
Earlier this month, the Army announced that Austin, Texas, had been chosen as the home for the new command, which will be led by a four-star general. Other finalists were Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Raleigh.
McCarthy said he visited each of the finalists and sent teams to the cities. But the final selection was left to science.
“We developed a formula,” he said.
With the help of an outside firm, the five cities were weighed based on available STEM talent, academic research and development, cost of living, quality of life and accessibility, among other variables.
“Austin, Texas, scored the highest in the final score,” McCarthy said.
He declined to comment on where Raleigh placed in the rankings or how far ahead Austin was from the other cities.
“North Carolina and Raleigh-Durham put out a very compelling concept, but we went with the one that was best for the Army,” McCarthy said.
State leaders had hoped to steer the Army to Durham or Research Triangle Park. Officials said they believed the state had a strong case, based on nearby universities and technology companies and the proximity of Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the nation.
Fort Bragg is home to one major command, U.S. Army Forces Command, which is also the largest command in the U.S. military.
McCarthy said Futures Command already has a team on the ground in Austin and will have its first 75 staffers in place no later than Labor Day. The command will eventually be home to about 500 soldiers and civilians, but they won't all be located in a single office.
Futures Command is being pieced together by parts of the three existing major commands, including Forces Command, Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and Army Material Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
The new structure will help streamline modernization efforts, McCarthy said.
“We need to fuse all of those stakeholders,” he said. “We need unity of command and unity of effort.”
If successful, the new command will save the Army years in development and bureaucratic delays.
McCarthy said the Army already knows the benefits the command will provide as its structure inspired six cross-functional teams that were created last fall and will eventually be folded into the new command.
The cross-functional teams include senior leaders and others working together in the areas of long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, communications networks, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality.
“We’re looking at soldiers from head to toe,” McCarthy said. “What are the capabilities they need?”
Futures Command will bring more efficiency, collaboration and accountability to the Army’s modernization efforts, McCarthy added.
The command also will be asked to prioritize the capabilities the Army wants, oversee research and development and build new capabilities.
The latter area is where Fort Bragg soldiers will perhaps play the biggest role.
While most local troops fall under Forces Command or Special Operations Command, McCarthy said Fort Bragg’s impact on modernization efforts was undeniable and unlikely to change.
“Soldiers here at Fort Bragg have been very helpful in experimenting with equipment,” McCarthy said.
Everything from night vision to weapons optics and exoskeletons have been tested with local troops, he said. And those troops have been intimately involved in the development of prototypes that will eventually find their way into the larger force.
“You immediately want to go to units as experienced and as talented as the 82nd Airborne Division and others to do that,” McCarthy said.