COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Nexstar) — The Army’s new investments in Texas expect big returns as it develops the next generation of tools for soldiers out of its Army Futures Command headquarters in Austin, but the military’s latest venture in the Lone Star State extends beyond the Capital City.
Army officials are touring facilities at Texas A&M’s sprawling nerve center in College Station this week as part of a plan to utilize all resources available for Army development.
“Although we’re based in Austin, we’re on a countrywide search for best talent and best ideas we can find,” Army Futures Command General Mike Murray told reporters Thursday.
The facilities on Gen. Murray’s tour stops focus on a variety of priorities, from unmanned vehicle systems to environmental technologies, to weapons development and equipment testing.
The move to put the Futures Command HQ in Austin was strategic on both sides, officials said, as they modernize and fulfill a list of priorities.
“We can’t expect to have victory in the future by using the last war’s equipment,” Col. Patrick Seiber, communications director for Army Futures Command said, explaining military leaders wanted to see first-hand how the state’s major university systems could play roles in development.
We’ve got people down in Prairie View and down in Corpus Christi and up toward Fort Hood and Killeen, and up in West Texas so we span the state with a wide array of capabilities that we are hoping to put on offer and find a way to help the Army succeed in this mission,” Stephen Cambone, associate vice chancellor for cyber initiatives said.
System Chancellor John Sharp said Aggieland is the most military-friendly campus in the country. Gen. Murray agreed.
“Texas is… the most friendly state to the military that I’ve ever been in, not only from a state perspective but from a community perspective,” Gen. Murray said. He attributed that to the state’s patriotism, and “sense of wanting to do something for the country.”
“I think the Army can benefit greatly from the entire state of Texas, in terms of… innovative thought processes, willingness to help the Army, and in this case Army Futures Command, advance its mission.”
The Army’s involvement in Texas is a two-way street, Gen. Murray made clear, stating that the military would bring resources to Texas too.
“There will be some financial benefits, there will be defense contractors move to this state because of Army Futures Command,” he said. “But, I think probably the best benefit to the state of Texas and the local communities, is I bring good people. I bring good neighbors, I bring soccer coaches, I bring people that will be in church next to you, and I bring very patriotic people that are fundamentally committed to the defense of this nation, to the communities we join.”
That is a priority for Gov. Greg Abbott heading into the legislative session, which starts Jan. 8.
“One priority I have during the next session is to make sure we provide greater enhancements for the many military bases we have in Texas to make sure that they would be free from any type of removal or reduction from any type of BRAC process,” Abbott told reporters at an event near Corpus Christi on Thursday, referring to the process of Base Realignment and Closing. That’s where the government decides to close or consolidate military base operations.
Of the new headquarter building, located a dozen or more stories up in the University of Texas System building in downtown Austin, Col. Seiber said a team of 80 has already begun operations, nearly double the staffing just a week ago. He said that number will likely inflate to 300 or so, in order to manage the approximately 17,000 civilians and military members across the country in the Army Futures program. Seiber said there are teams working closely with other universities in Texas to maximize resources.