AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Army Futures Command Headquarters officially opens Friday in Austin inside the University of Texas Systems Building on West Seventh Street. It will bring 500 jobs (100 military and 400 civilian employees).
Austin was chosen as the headquarters for the Army Futures Command (AFC) in July in part due to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit within the city. The AFC aims to develop cutting-edge technology for soldiers under a more centralized structure.
“It’s not just about equipment — it’s about how we train our soldiers, educate and leader development and how do we have the right formations on how we employ these systems,” says Col. Patrick Seiber, communications director for the Army Futures Command.
“This will involve a range of things like robotics, unmanned vehicles, drones, cyber technologies, advanced navigation and timing, long-range precision fires. All these things are key in what an Army is going to need in order to keep America protected tomorrow.”
The process of selecting Austin started with 150 metropolitan areas, narrowed down to five. Besides Austin, officials considered Boston; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Philadelphia.
This reorganization is being called the Army’s most significant since the 1970s.
“Now we’re at a point where our competitors are watching, and we can’t afford to protect America using the last war’s equipment, tactics and procedures, and now we need to look at ahead of what we need for the next 30 years. This command will look ahead to the future so we don’t get lost in the present,” says Col. Seiber.
The $11 billion project brought politicians from both sides together.
“We all know that today would not be happening without what you have done at the local level, partnering with premier and highest caliber economic development professional.
said Governor Greg Abbott, pointing to his political rival, Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
“Austin was chosen because much like the army. It advances people based on merit. Not on ethnicity. Not on religion. But based on merit. It has the people that can make the difference,” said Austin Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett.
Why landing this Army HQ is bigger than Amazon HQ
Joshua Baer, the CEO of Capital Factory in downtown Austin, says while people are focusing on the number of jobs AFC is bringing, they really should be focusing on what those people are doing.
“Because this group of 500 people controls the whole R&D [research and development] budget for the entire Army which is one of the biggest R&D budgets in the world,” Baer explained. “It’s billions and billions of dollars and those people are going to live here. If you think of the attractive magnet of that…all the people and companies, big companies and small companies that are gonna want to be around that.”