The U.S. Army Futures Command is moving to Austin in Texas – See Details Here
The Army Moves to Austin… The United State Army has selected Austin which is a city in Texas as its home. Continue
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The U.S. Army Futures Command is moving to Austin in Texas
Austin is a city which is located in TEXAS. This city attracts various venture capital than Dallas and Houston.
The U.S. Army has selected Austin as home to its new Army Futures Command, a unit designed to ensure soldiers are best prepared for the next generation of warfare.
The move was the Army’s first significant reorganization since 1973 – after the troops returned from Vietnam – and an about-face of sorts for a military branch that had never created a command in an urban area. And for the city whose mantra is “Keep Austin Weird,” the development represents a new phase in its growing evolution from state capital and college town to a tech and entrepreneurial center.
The Army is well aware it’s been slow to adapt and develop the kind of technology needed to maintain U.S. global military superiority. It selected Austin – a liberal enclave in a solid red state – in hopes of soaking up the city’s creative culture and quickening the pace of its transformation. But now that the Texas capital city is the Army’s next big thing, some worry whether Austin’s quirky vibe can survive.
Among them is Brannen Mehaffey, founder and CEO of Pivot Networks, an IT company, who says he “absolutely” worries about how the Army may impact Austin culture.
“Everyone in Austin – they really just want peace and love,” he says. “It seems like the wrong place for it. It’s too liberal here.”
But Sherri Greenberg, a state representative for a decade and a clinical professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, says the city has changed from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
“Back in the day, Austin had this reputation of liberal – war protests and sit-ins,” she says, despite the fact the city was home to Bergstrom Air Force Base – now the airport – from 1942 to 1993. “We’re now in 2018. It’s an accepting community. I don’t think there’s going to be a big culture clash. They’re not going to see a military base in the middle of downtown.”
Futures Command won’t be at full speed until next summer, when 500 people – soldiers and civilians – will work in Austin sans uniform in favor of dressing Austin casual to blend in with the culture, according to Col. Patrick Seiber, the command’s spokesman. Some 103 are already in place, with numbers increasing each day as various engineers, high-tech specialists and others are hired, both locally and from elsewhere.
The command’s headquarters are spread over a few floors at the University of Texas System’s downtown office, just blocks away from Capital Factory, an accelerator and co-working space, where a handful of Futures Command personnel are already among the company’s individual and corporate members. The Army personnel at Capital Factory will grow to at least 15 by next year, not including the many Army contractors and others who may also be based there rather than UT. That close proximity is deliberate to encourage collaboration and easy flow between work environments, with personnel regularly moving between locations, Seiber adds.
At the Capital Factory, Army employees can help themselves to free cereal and snacks, as well as Kombucha and cold brew. They can unwind in a game area with foosball and table tennis, and talk strategy in conference rooms with names like Willie Nelson and Death Star. (Office floors have themes, with Austin and live music on one and Star Wars – complete with a Darth Vader mannequin – on another.)
It’s exactly what the Army had in mind by abandoning its longtime traditions for some Austin originality.
“They’re not trying to make us more like the Army,” says Joshua Baer, Capital Factory’s executive director. “They’re trying to make the Army more like us.”
The Army was initially considering 150 cities for its new headquarters, and eventually whittled the list to five. Austin was selected in July, largely for its workforce and research investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; private sector innovation; quality of life; and civic support. The Austin-based UT System and the Texas A&M University System, based in College Station about 100 miles away, offer an extra boost of academic and technical support.
Austin’s new command will be the hub for the Army’s research and development and decision-making, although the overall command will include 17,000 soldiers and civilians, with individuals around the country at Army bases in Georgia, Kansas, Maryland and elsewhere.
The unit is already working on several projects, including its recently unveiled glasses with night vision, GPS and other capabilities. Other projects will focus on robotics, unmanned vehicles, drones, cyber technologies, advanced navigation, intelligence and medical innovation for soldiers in the field.
Gen. John “Mike” Murray, a four-star general, is the command’s first leader. He moved to Austin in early November from Washington, D.C.
“Austin Futures Command was set up to go out and find innovation and innovators and go where America’s talent is to do modernization in a somewhat – if not radically different – way,” Murray says.
“We’ve failed to deliver new capability to our soldiers,” he adds. “We’ve been successful in upgrading, but we failed on new technologies and new equipment at the pace some of our adversaries are delivering to their ground forces.”
Some residents were unaware that the Army was coming to town. Local singer and songwriter Sara Hickman, who performed in Austin in November at “The Art of the Protest Song,” a national concert series, says she was caught off guard.
“I’m really surprised nobody brought it up … and it makes me think it’s not at the top of people’s concerns,” she says. “I think of Austin as a place of peace. I’m going to hope it leads them down to finding peaceful resolutions in warring zones.”
Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, whose district includes Austin, said there’s been little pushback about the new command. “While I received a few communications objecting to the decision, most of the input, particularly from those involved in tech, has been very positive,” he said in a statement.
The Army is developing a public relations strategy that includes becoming more visible, with Murray and other Futures Command officials on local radio and television as well as at community events and public engagements, including South By Southwest in March.
Proponents of the move are excited about potential benefits to the city’s economy.
“We have big tech, new medical tech and now we have defense tech, which is very exciting,” says John Barksdale, senior vice president in Austin with CBRE Group, Inc., a global commercial real estate services and investment firm.
Office space is already at a premium, with a downtown vacancy rate of 7 percent, says Chris Perry, founding principal at Aquila Commercial, an Austin-based commercial real estate firm.
“That’s a very hot market,” he says. “If you have companies who want to be close to the AFC, it will be difficult to find space downtown.”
The benefit is expected to extend beyond the city’s borders as businesses that want to be close to the action also look to nearby towns, says Charisse Bodisch, senior vice president for economic development at the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
AFC will attract many Department of Defense-related labs, companies and investors, all vying to be near the command, observers agree.
“It’s having an entire new strategic industry dropped out of the sky,” says Larry Peterson, executive director of the nonpartisan Texas Foundation for Innovative Communities. “This will pull down billions of dollars for the state each year, and not just for Austin.”
Baer, of Capital Factory, says defense contractors and others with similar interests “show up at the front desk and say ‘Is this the place where the Army is coming? How do we get a membership here?'”
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