Raleigh, Boston Make Final Five Cut for New Army Futures Command

(Bloomberg) -- Boston and Raleigh, North Carolina, are among five cities on the U.S. Army’s list of finalists to host its new Futures Command in what the service calls its most significant organizational development in decades.

A five-person Army team will visit Raleigh this week to review the city’s blend of access to academia and industry and help it “better understand the socio-economic dynamics” of the region, Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in a May 25 letter to Mayor Nancy McFarlane that was obtained by Bloomberg News.

The Raleigh area is known for the Research Triangle, an innovation hub that’s home to three major research universities.

The team will also visit Boston later this week, according to a person familiar with the Army’s decision. The person, who was granted anonymity to discuss the matter, was not aware of the additional three cities that made the final cut from a field of 15, which included Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle. A final decision will be made by June 30.

The Futures Command, which will be run by a four-star general, “will help drive” the Army’s six top modernization priorities, the first of which is improving its ATACMS tactical missile system, McCarthy said in an interview Friday.

Future Threats

The command will consolidate the brainpower that looks at the future threats the Army faces, what technology is needed to counter those threats, what programs should receive priority funding and then overseeing development through existing subordinate commands.

Previously personnel were at different locations “and they would email each other,” McCarthy said. “Now you have them working under the same organization.”

“Our approach is very similar to what you would see in a restructuring in the private sector,” McCarthy said.

The command is also intended to help the service improve its acquisition of major weapons after high-profile failures since the early 2000s, including the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, the Crusader self-propelled howitzer, and the costliest, the Future Combat Systems program.

McCarthy declined to discuss the specific cities that made the final five but said they have been disclosed to the relevant congressional committees and offices.

Army Secretary Mark Esper in an April interview said the service doesn’t intend to build a costly new facility and that he foresees a command of fewer than 500 military and civilian personnel. McCarthy said the estimate is within a range that will shift as needed.

“As this command gets stood up you’ll see the numbers of people potentially go up or down as they get it right,” McCarthy said. “We don’t want to create an undue expectation in any one of these cities that they are going to have hundreds of hundreds of people arrive. There will be a decent size of personnel” but the Army leadership “doesn’t want it to be too big,” McCarthy said.

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