Futures Command (AFC) was established in 2018 as a peer of FORSCOM, TRADOC, and Army Materiel Command (AMC), the other Army commands (ACOMs—providing forces, training and doctrine, and materiel respectively). Previously the United States military focused on fighting insurgents, since 2001. The other Army commands focus on their readiness to "Fight tonight" when called upon by the nation. In contrast, AFC is focused on future readiness for competition with near-peers, who have updated their capabilities.
AFC declared its full operational capability (FOC) in July 2019, after an initial one-year period.
The FY2020 budget allocated $30 billion for the top six modernization priorities over the next five years. The $30 billion came from $8 billion in cost avoidance and $22 billion in terminations.
Over 30 projects are envisioned to become the materiel basis needed for overmatching any potential competitors in the continuum of conflict over the next ten years, in Multi-domain operations (MDO).
In the view of Secretary McCarthy, there will be three elements in Futures Command:
Futures and Concepts: assess gaps (needs versus opportunities, given a threat). Concepts for realizable future systems (with readily harvestable content):for definitions of terms, such as '6.3' will flow into TRADOC doctrine, manuals, and training programs.
Combat Development: stabilized concepts. Balance the current state of technology and the cash-flow requirements of the defense contractors providing the technology, that they become deliverable experiments, demonstrations, and prototypes, in an iterative process of acquisition. (See #Value stream)
Combat Systems: experiments, demonstrations, and prototypes. Transition to the acquisition, production, and sustainment programs of AMC.
Then-Secretary Esper emphasized that the 2018 administrative infrastructure for the Futures and Concepts Center (formerly ARCIC) and CCDC (formerly RDECOM) remains in place at their existing locations. What has changed or will change is the layers of command (operational control, or OPCON) needed to make a decision.
You've got to remain open to change, you've got to remain flexible, you've [got] to remain accessible. That is the purpose of this command.
Under Secretary McCarthy characterized a Cross-functional team (CFT) as a team of teams, led by a requirements leader, program manager, sustainer, tester.
Each CFT must strike a balance for itself amid constraints: the realms of requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test, resourcing, costing, and sustainment.
A balance is needed in order for a CFT in order to produce a realizable concept before a competitor achieves it.
Cross-functional teams for materiel and capabilities were first structured in a task force, in order to de-layer the Army Commands. Each CFT addresses a capability gap, which the Army must now match for its future:
there can be a Capability development integration directorate (CDID), for each CFT.[Note 1] Initially, the CFTs were placed as needed; eventually they might each co-locate at a Center of Excellence (CoE) listed below. For example, the Aviation CoE at Fort Rucker, in coordination with the Aviation program executive office (PEO), also contains the Vertical Lift CFT and the Aviation capability development integration directorate (CDID).
Modernization reform is the priority for AFC, in order to achieve readiness for the future.
The CFTs will be involved in all three of AFC's elements: Futures and concepts, Combat development, and Combat systems. "We were never above probably a total of eight people" — BG Wally Rugen, Aviation CFT. Four of the eight CFT leads have now shifted from dual-hat jobs to full-time status. Each CFT lead is mentored by a 4-star general.
Although AFC and the CFTs are a top priority of the Department of the Army, as AFC and the CFTs are expected to unify control of the $30 billion-dollar modernization budget, "The new command will not tolerate a zero-defects mentality. 'But if you fail, we'd like you to fail early and fail cheap,' because progress and success often builds on failure." —Ryan McCarthy: Holland notes that prototyping applies to the conceptual realm ('harvestable content') as much as prototyping applies to the hardware realm.
A 2019 GAO report cautions that lessons learned from the CFT pilot are yet to be applied; Holland notes that this organizational critique applies to prototyping hardware, a different realm than concept refinement ("scientific research is a fundamentally different activity than technology development").
Joint collaboration on modernization
The Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy meet regularly to take advantage of overlap in their programs:
Hypersonics — The US Army (August 2018) has no tested countermeasure for intercepting maneuverable hypersonic weapons platforms, and in this case the problem is being addressed in a joint program of the entire Department of Defense. The Army is participating in a joint program with the Navy and Air Force, to develop a hypersonic glide body. The Long range precision fires (LRPF) CFT is supporting Space and Missile Defense Command's pursuit of hypersonics. Joint programs in hypersonics are informed by Army work, however at the strategic level, the bulk of the hypersonics work remains at the Joint level. Long range precision fires (LRPF) is an Army priority, and also a DoD joint effort. A wind tunnel for testing hypersonic vehicles will be built in Texas (2019). The Army's Land-based Hypersonic Missile "is intended to have a range of 1,400 miles".:p.6 By adding rocket propulsion to a shell or glide body, the joint effort shaved five years off the likely fielding time for hypersonic weapon systems. Countermeasures against hypersonics will require sensor data fusion: both radar and infrared sensor tracking data will be required to capture the signature of a hypersonic vehicle in the atmosphere.
The ability to punch-through any standoff defense of a near-peer competitor is the goal which Futures Command is seeking. For example, the combination of F-35-based targeting coordinates, Long range precision fires, and Low-earth-orbit satellite capability overmatches the competition, according to Lt. Gen. Wesley.
Multi-domain operations (MDO) span multiple domains: cis-lunar space, land, air, maritime, cyber, and populations.:minute 17:45 Echelons above brigade (division, corps, and theater army) engage in a continuum of conflict.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Modernization — The Secretary of the Army has directed the establishment of an Army AI task force (A-AI TF) to support the DoD Joint AI center. The execution order will be drafted and staffed by Futures Command:
Army AI task force (its relationship with the CFTs is cross-cutting, in the same sense as the Assured Position, Navigation, Timing CFT (A-PNT) and the Synthetic Training Environment CFT (STE) are also cross-cutting) will use the resources of the Army to establish scalable machine learning projects at Carnegie Mellon University
the CIO/G-6 will create an Identity, Credential, and Access Management system to efficiently issue and verify credentials to non-person entities (AI agents and machines)
DCS G-2 will coordinate with CG AFC, and director of A-AI TF, to provide intelligence for Long-Range Precision Fires
CG AMC will provide functional expertise and systems for maintenance of materiel with AI
AFC and A-AI TF will establish an AI test bed for experimentation, training, deployment, and testing of machine learning capabilities and workflows. Funding will be assured for the Fiscal Year 2019.
AFC is actively seeking partners outside the gates of a military reservation, including research funding to over 300 colleges and universities. "We will come to you. You don't have to come to us. — General Mike Murray, 24 August 2018":minute 6:07
Multiple incubator tech hubs are available in Austin,
especially Capital Factory, with offices of DIUx and AFWERX (USAF tech hub). Gen. Murray will stand up an Army Applications Lab[Note 2] there to accelerate acquisition and deployment of materiel to the Soldiers, using AI as one acceleration technique; Murray will hire a Chief Technology Officer for AFC. Gen. Murray, in seeking to globalize AFC, has embedded U.S. military allies into some of the Cross-functional teams (CFTs).
AFC is seeking to design signature systems in a relevant time frame according to priorities[Note 1] of the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA). AFC will partner with other organizations such as Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) as needed.
If a team from industry presents a viable program idea to a CFT, that CFT connects to the Army's requirements developers, Secretary Esper said, and the program prototype is then put on a fast track.
The Secretary of the Army has approved an Intellectual Property Management Policy, to protect both the Army and the entrepreneur or innovator.
For example, the Network cross-functional team (CFT) and the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications—Tactical (PEO C3T) hosted a forum on 1 August 2018 for vendors to learn what might function as a testable/deployable in the near future. A few of the hundreds of white papers from the vendors, adjudged to be 'very mature ideas', were passed to the Army's acquisition community, while many others were passed to CERDEC for continuation in the Army's effort to modernize the network for combat. Although some test requirements were inappropriately applied, the Command post computing environment (CPCE) has passed a hurdle.
While seeking information, the Army is especially interested in ideas that accelerate an acquisition program, in for example the Future Vertical Lift Requests for Information (RFIs): “provide a detailed description of tailored, alternative or innovative approaches that streamlines the acquisition process to accelerate the program as much as possible”.
DoD (2007) Acquisition process denoting Milestones A, B, C along a timeline. When a milestone has been met, the triangle then points downward, at this time. Otherwise the milestone is planned, but not yet met at this time.
Futures Command partners with the ASA(ALT), who, in the role of the Army Acquisition Executive (AAE), has milestone decision authority (MDA) at multiple points in a Materiel development decision (MDD). (Thus, from the perspective of AFC, which seeks to modernize, consolidate the relevant expertise into the relevant CFT. The CFT balances the constraints needed to realize a prototype, beginning with realizable requirements, science and technology, test, etc. before entering the acquisition process (typically the Army prototypes on its own, and currently initiates acquisition at Milestone B, in order to have the Acquisition Executive, with the concurrence of the Army Chief of Staff, decide on production as a program of record at Milestone C). Next, refine the prototype to address the factors needed to pass the Milestone decisions A, B, and C which require Milestone decision authority (MDA) in an acquisition process. This consolidation of expertise thus reduces the risks in a Materiel development decision (MDD), for the Army to admit a prototype into a program of record.) The existing processes (as of April 2018) for a Materiel development decision (MDD) have been updated to clarify their place in the Life Cycle of a program of record: over 1200 programs/projects were reviewed; by October 2019, over 600 programs of record have been moved from the acquisition (development for modernization) phase to the sustainment phase (for mature projects, to continue their manufacture and fielding to the brigades). An additional life cycle management action is underway, to re-examine which of these projects/programs should be divested. (Surplus materiel might well go to the Security Assistance Command, perhaps to Foreign Military Sales.)
The current acquisition system has pieces all throughout the Army. ... There’s chunks of it in TRADOC and chunks of it in AMC and then other pieces. So really all we’re trying to do is get them all lined up under a single command…..from concept, S&T, RDT&E, through the requirements process, through the beginnings of the acquisition system — Milestone A, B, and C — ….aligned under that same commander. ... We will finally achieve… unity of command — Secretary Esper.
The PEOs work closely with their respective CFTs. The list of CFTs and PEOs below is incomplete.[Note 1]
Operationally, the CFTs offer "de-layering" (fewer degrees of separation between the echelons of the Army — Rugen estimates two degrees of separation), and provide a point of contact (POC) for Army reformers interested in adding value in the midst of constraints to be balanced while modernizing. "... and if we're really good, we'll continue to adapt. Year over year over year." —Secretary Esper:minute 19:00 (See #Value streams.)
Prototyping and experimentation
"Our new approach is really to prototype as much as we can to help us identify requirements, so our reach doesn’t exceed our grasp. ... A good example is Future Vertical Lift: The prototyping has been exceptional." —Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. The development process will be cyclic, consisting of prototype, demonstration/testing, and evaluation, in an iterative process designed to unearth unrealistic requirements early, before prematurely including that requirement in a program of record.
AFC activities include at least one Cross-functional team, its Capability development integration directorate (CDID),:Para. 2b and the associated Battle Lab,:Para. 2b for each Center of Excellence (CoE) respectively. Each CDID and associated Battle Lab work with their CFT to develop operational experiments and prototypes to test.
ASA(ALT), in coordination with AFC, has dotted-line relationships between its PEOs and the CFTs. In particular, the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office of ASA(ALT) has a PEO who is charged with developing experimental prototype 'units of action' for rapid fielding to the Soldiers. The prototypes are currently for Long range hypersonic weapons, High energy laser defense, and Space, as of June 2019.
Tests are run by JMC and WSMR, which hosts ATEC. As ATEC reports directly to the Army Chief of Staff, the test support level from ATEC is to be specified by the CFT, or PEO. Fort Bliss and WSMR together cover 3.06 million acres, large enough to test every non-nuclear weapon system in the Army inventory.:minute 1:26:00JMC runs live developmental experiments to test and assess MDO concepts or capabilities that support the Army's six modernization priorities which are then analyzed by The Research and Analysis Center, denoted TRAC based out of Fort Leavenworth, or AMSAA, denoted the Data Analysis Center at APG. CCDC (formerly RDECOM, at APG) includes the several Army research laboratory locations (ARLs), as well as research, development and engineering centers (RDECs) listed:
In internal partnerships, CCDC (formerly RDECOM) has taken Long range precision fires (LRPF) as its focus in aligning its organizations (the six research, development and engineering centers (RDECs), and the Army Research Laboratory (ARL)); as of September 2018, RDECOM's 'concept of operation' is first to support the LRPF CFT, with ARDEC. AMRDEC is looking to improve the energetics and efficiency of projectiles. TARDEC Ground Vehicle Center is working on high-voltage components for Extended range cannon artillery (ERCA) that save on size and weight. Two dedicated RDECOM people support the LRPF CFT, with reachback support from two dozen more at RDECOM. In January 2019 RDECOM was reflagged as CCDC; General Mike Murray noted that CCDC will have to support more Soldier feedback, and that prototyping and testing will have to begin before a project ever becomes a program of record.
Although the Army Research Laboratory has not changed its name, Secretary Esper notes that the CCDC objectives supersede the activities of the Laboratory; the Laboratory remains in its support role for the top-six priorities for modernizing combat capabilities.[Note 1]
Acquisition specialists are being encouraged to accept lateral transfers to the several research, development and engineering centers (RDECs), where their skills are needed: Ground vehicle systems center (formerly TARDEC, at Detroit Arsenal), Aviation and missile center (formerly AMRDEC, at Redstone Arsenal), C5ISR center (formerly CERDEC, at Aberdeen Proving Ground), Soldier center (formerly NSRDEC, Natick, MA), and Armaments center (formerly ARDEC, at Picatinny Arsenal) listed below.
AFC branch locations
The following activities for Futures Command are at 23 locations.
FT LVN Operations research: Mission Command Battle Lab, Capability development integration directorate (CDID), The Research Analysis Center (TRAC), formerly TRADOC Analysis Center,Fort Leavenworth KS
Example of the use of simulations —"a simulation places leadership teams in a situation akin to a Combat Training Center rotation, an intellectually and emotionally challenging environment that forgives the mistakes of the participants" —Train the trainer: A trainer (not shown) is interviewing a virtual Soldier in a role-playing session. The virtual Soldier has a leadership role in an Army unit. The trainer must tell the virtual Soldier what the Soldier is not doing correctly. Trainers using this program show a 40% increase in their knowledge of the SHARP policy.Trainers using this role-playing program can review missed concepts and practice lessons they didn't get right during their first trial. "Repetition increases a team’s situational understanding of the tactics they’ll use ..."—Maj. Anthony Clas These simulations are created at Army Research Laboratory (ARL) West, and ICT, Playa Vista, CA
Between 1995 and 2009, $32 billion was expended on programs such as the Future Combat System (2003-2009), with no harvestable content by the time of its cancellation. The Army has not fielded a new combat system in decades.
Secretary of the Army Mark Esper has remarked that AFC will provide the unity of command and purpose needed to reduce the requirements definition phase from 60 months to 12 months.
A simple statement of a problem (rather than a full-blown requirements definition) that the Army is trying to address may suffice for a surprising, usable solution. —General Mike Murray, paraphrasing Trae Stephens:minute 41:50 (One task will be to quantify the lead time for identifying a requirement; the next task would then be to learn how to reduce that lead time.—Gap analysis ):minute 11:00 Process changes are expected. The development process will be cyclic, consisting of prototype, demonstration/testing, and evaluation, in an iterative process designed to unearth unrealistic requirements early, before prematurely including that requirement in a program of record. The ASA(ALT) Bruce Jette has cautioned the acquisition community to 'call-out' unrealistic processes which commit a program to a drawn-out failure, rather than failing early, and seeking another solution.
Secretary Esper scrubbed through 800 modernization programs to reprioritize funding for the top 6 modernization priorities, which will consume 80% of the modernization funding, of 18 systems. The Budget Control Act will restrict funds by 2020. Secretary McCarthy has cautioned that a stopgap 2019 Continuing resolution (CR) would halt development of some of the critical modernization projects. Realistically, budget considerations will restrict the fielding of new materiel to one Armor BCT per year; at that rate, updates would take decades.
The CIO/G6 has targeted Futures Command (Austin) in 2019 as the first pilot for "enterprise IT-as-a-service"-style service contracts; General Murray now (July 2019) has a sensitive compartmented information facility in his headquarters, as a result of this pilot. Two other locations are to be announced for 2019. Six to eight other pilots are envisioned for 2020. However 288 other enterprise network locations remain to be migrated away from the previous "big bang" migration concept from several years ago, as they are vulnerable to near-peer cyber threats.:minute 16:50 The CIO/G6 emphasizes that this enterprise migration is not the tactical network espoused in the top six priorities (a 'mobile & expeditionary Army network').
After AFC, the following G6 service contracts are high priority:
Chief Milley noted that AFC would actively reach out into the community in order to learn, and that Senator John McCain's frank criticism of the acquisition process was instrumental for modernization reform at Futures command.:minute 7:30 In fact, AFC soldiers would blend into Austin by not wearing their uniforms [to work side-by-side with civilians in the tech hubs], Milley noted in the 24 August 2018 press conference.:minute 6:20 Secretary Esper said he expected failures during the process of learning how to reform the acquisition and modernization process;:minute 18:20 the Network CFT and PEO have detected a process failure in the DOT&E requirements process: some test requirements were inappropriately applied.
In the Department of Defense, the materiel supply process was underwritten by the acquisition, logistics, and technology directorate of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), with a deputy secretary of defense (DSD) to oversee five areas, one of them being acquisition, logistics, and technology (ALT). ALT is overseen by an under secretary of defense (USD). (Each of the echelons at the level of DSD and USD serve at the pleasure of the president, as does the secretary of defense (SECDEF).) The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) trains acquisition professionals for the Army as well.
In 2016 when RDECOM reported to AMC (instead of to AFC, as it does as of 2018), AMC instituted Life cycle management command (LCMC) of three of RDECOM's centers for aviation and missiles, electronics, and tanks:AMRDEC,CERDEC, and TARDEC respectively, as well as the three contracting functions for the three centers.
This Life Cycle Management (formulated in 2004) was intended to exert the kind of operational control (OPCON) needed just for the sustainment function (AMC's need for Readiness today), rather than for its relevance to modernization for the future, which is the focus of AFC. AFC now serves as the deciding authority when moving a project in its Life Cycle, out of the Acquisition phase and into the Sustainment phase.
Relevance for modernization
The CFTs,[Note 1] as prioritized 1 through 6 by the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), each have to consider constraints: a balance of requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test, resourcing, costing, and sustainment.
The DOTMLPF method of mission planning was instituted to quantify tradeoffs in joint planning. TRADOC's Mission Command CoE uses DOTMLPF.
DOTMLPF will be used for modernization of the Army beyond materiel alone, which (as of 2019) is the current focus of the CFTs.
The updated modernization strategy, to move from concept to doctrine as well, will be unveiled by summer 2019.
DOTMLPF (doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities) itself is planned as a driver for modernization. The plan is to have an MDO-capable Army by 2028, and an MDO-ready Army by 2035.
TRADOC, ASA (ALT), and AFC are tied together in this process, according to Vice Chief McConville. AFC will have to be "a little bit disruptive [but not upsetting to the existing order]" in order to institute reforms within budget in a timely way.
The ASA(ALT), or Assistant Secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology is currently (2018) Dr. Bruce Jette. The ASA(ALT) is the civilian executive overseeing both the acquisition and the sustainment processes of the Department of the Army. The ASA(ALT) will coordinate the acquisition portion of modernization reform with AFC.
Congress has given the Army OTA (Other Transaction Authority),[Note 2] which allows the PEOs to enter into Full Rate Production quicker by permitting the services to control their own programs of record, rather than DoD. This strips out one layer of bureaucracy as of 2018.
MTA (middle tier acquisition authority) is another tool available to Program Managers and Contracting Officers.
In addition, the Program Executive Officers (PEOs) of ASA (ALT) are to maintain a dotted-line relationship[Note 1] (i.e., coordination) with Futures Command.
There is now a PEO for Rapid Capabilities, to get rapid turnaround. The Rapid capabilities office (RCO)'s PEO gets two program managers, one for rapid prototyping, and one for rapid acquisition, of a capability. The Rapid capabilities office (RCO) does not develop its own requirements; rather, the RCO gets the requirements from the Cross-functional team (CFT). Rapid Capabilities (RCO) was headed by Tanya Skeen as PEO RCO but Skeen moved to DoD, in late 2018. In 2019 RCO became the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) The Pentagon, headed by LTG L. Neil Thurgood, lately of ASA(ALT)'s Army Hypersonics office.
Progress toward MDO
The CG of Army Futures Command (AFC) is set to announce full operational capability (FOC) 31 July 2019. The Army G8 is monitoring just how producible (Milestone C) the upcoming materiel will be; for the moment, the G8 is funding the materiel. Follow-up on Modernization reviews is forthcoming, on a regular basis, according to the G8.
Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) is a systematic program to extend the artillery's range. The current tests show the range has doubled.
The current Paladin (M109A6) cannon range is doubling (M109A7).:minute 2:30 An operational test of components of Long range cannon (LRC) is scheduled for 2020. LRC is complementary to Extended range cannon artillery (ERCA). Investigations for ERCA in 2025: rocket-boosted artillery shells: Tests of the Multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) XM30 rocket shell have demonstrated a near-doubling of the range of the munition, using the Tail controlled guided multiple launch rocket system, or TC-G. The TRADOC capability manager (TCM) Field Artillery Brigade - DIVARTY has been named a command position.[Note 3]
The Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) is slated to replace the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) in 2023. PrSM flight testing is delayed beyond 2 August 2019, the anticipated date for the expiration of the INF Treaty, which set 499 kilometer limits on intermediate-range missiles. (David Sanger and Edward Wong project that the earliest test of a longer range missile could be a ground-launched version of a Tomahawk cruise missile, followed by a test of a mobile ground launched IRBM with a range of 1800-2500 miles before year-end 2019.) The Lockheed PrSM prototype flew its December 10, 2019 first launch at White Sands Missile Range, in a 150 mile test, and an overhead detonation; the Raytheon PrSM prototype is delayed from its planned November launch. The PrSM's range and accuracy, the interfaces to HIMARS launcher, and test software, met expectations.
The Long range hypersonic weapon (LRHW) will use precision targeting data against anti-access area denial (A2AD) radars and other critical infrastructure of near-peer competitors by 2023. LRHW does depend on stable funding.
Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) portfolio: —Maj. Gen. Dave Bassett, PEO GCS 2016Note: In 2018 MG Bassett became PEO C3T — Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical
An Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator, compact enough for AMPVs, Bradleys, OMFVs, or RCVs, can generate 1,000 horsepower from diesel. Alternatively, the demonstrator can generate electrical power: 160 kiloWatts for SHORAD high-energy lasers, or for propulsion of a 50-ton vehicle in quiet mode, for brief periods.
A ground mobility vehicle competition, bids closing 26 October 2018
The JLTV was approved for full rate production in June 2019. Joint Modernization Command (JMC) is supporting a TCM Stryker study on the optimum number of JLTVs for light infantry brigades.
Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF): approved by joint requirements oversight council. Two vendors were selected to build competing prototype light tanks (MPF), with contract award in 2022. A unit of 82nd Airborne Division will begin assessment of prototype MPFs beginning in March 2020.
Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV): soliciting input, in requirements definition stage; 2 should fit in a C-17. A request for proposal (RFP) for a vehicle prototype was placed March 29, 2019.
Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs): General Murray envisions that by FY2023 critical decisions will be made on RCVs after years of experimentation.
Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD): prototypes by two teams to replace UH-60 with Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA). The tilt-rotor FLRAA demonstrator by Bell is flying unmanned (October 2019); it logged 100 hours of flight testing by April 2019. Both Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing will likely receive contract awards to develop final designs in February 2020.
The Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) is smaller than FLRAA. The Army issued requests for proposals (RFPs) for FARA. RFPs were due in December 2018; in April 2019, the Army awarded 5 Other transaction authority (OTA) contracts to vendors with a Milestone C in 2028. Each agreement spans the entire acquisition process, from design, to prototype, to flight test, to low-volume production, to fielding, to full-rate production (Milestone C); but each agreement is subject to cancellation, if need be.
Future tactical unmanned aircraft systems (FTUAS): drones which do not require runways
Mobile, Expeditionary Network: In Fiscal Year 2019, the network CFT will leverage Network Integration Evaluation 18.2 for experiments with brigade level scalability. Avoid overspecifying the requirements (in Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) Information Systems Initial Capabilities Document) to meet operational needs, such as interoperability with other networks.:minute 26:40 ITN to have Capability set '21, '23, '25 incrementally.
Up through 2028, every two years the Army will insert new capability sets for ITN (Capability sets '21, '23, '25, etc.). and take feedback from Soldier-led experiment & evaluation.
Five Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) awards have been granted to five vendors via the Network CFT and PEO C3T's request for white papers. That request, for a roll-on/roll-off kit that integrates all functions of mission command on the Army Network, was posted at the National Spectrum Consortium and FedBizOpps, and yielded awards within eight months.[Note 2] Two more awards are forthcoming.
The Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO)'s Emerging Technologies Office structured a competition to find superior AI/Machine Learning algorithms for electronic warfare, from a field of 150 contestants, over a three-month period.[Note 2]
The Multi-Domain Operations Task Force (MDO TF) is standing up an experimental Electronic Warfare Platoon to prototype an estimated 1000 EW soldiers needed for the 31 BCTs of the active Army.
Integrated Air and Missile Battle Command System (IBCS):p.42 second limited user test is scheduled to take place in the fourth quarter of FY20. On 1 May 2019 an Engagement Operations Center (EOC) for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) was delivered to the Army, at Huntsville, Alabama, which is intended to integrate the following:
Lower tier air and missile defense sensor (LTAMDS) —PEO RCO is accelerating LTAMDS experimentation by downselecting to two competitors with award by 2023[Note 2]
LTAMDS uses gallium nitride (GaN) RF elements. It replaces the Patriot radar, fits on a C-17, and feeds data to IBCS.
Indirect fire protection capability (IFPC) Multi-mission launcher (MML)
F-35, Aegis, Patriot, LTAMDS, and THAAD radars will interoperate. On 30 August 2019 at Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein atoll, THAAD Battery E-62 successfully intercepted a medium range ballistic missile (MRBM), using a radar which was well-separated from the interceptors; the next steps could potentially test Patriot missiles as interceptors while using THAAD radars as sensors; a THAAD radar has a longer detection range than a Patriot radar. THAAD Battery E-62 engaged the MRBM without knowledge of just when the medium range ballistic missile had launched.
Although on 21 August 2019 the Missile defense agency (MDA) cancelled the $5.8 billion dollar contract for the Redesigned kill vehicle (RKV), the Army's 100th Missile Defense Brigade will continue to use the Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). The current Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) programs continue per plan, with 64 ground-based interceptors (GBIs) in the missile fields for 2019.
The TRADOC capability manager (TCM) for Strategic Missile Defense (SMD) has accepted the charter for DOTMLPF for the Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT).
Next-generation squad weapon: Expect 100,000 to be fielded to the Close Combat Force: Infantry, Armor, Cavalry, Special Forces, and Combat engineers. Tests at Fort Benning in 2019. —Chief of Staff Milley
Nine thousand systems, with two drones apiece are being purchased over a three year period for the 9-man infantry squads heading to Afghanistan.
Synthetic training environment (STE)—a CFT devoted to an augmented reality system to aid planning, using mapping techniques, even at squad level will begin fielding by 2021. In October 2019 the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) prototype is being used by Special Operations for planning actual missions.
Enterprise campaign planning
In 2019 DoD planners are exercising DOTMLPF in planning, per the National Defense Strategy (NDS),
in the shift from counterinsurgency (COIN) to competition with near-peer powers. The evaluations from planners' scenarios will be determining materiel and organization by late 2020.
Futures Command is formulating multiyear Enterprise campaign plans, in 2019. The planning process includes Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC), AFC's cross-functional teams (CFTs), Futures and Concepts (FCC), Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), and Army Reserve's Houston-based 75th Innovation Command. At this stage, one goal is to formulate the plans in simple, coherent language which nests within the national security strategic documents.
AFC faces multiple futures, both as threat and opportunity. The Army's warfighting directive, viz., "to impose the nation's political will on its enemy" —Chief of Staff Milley, is to be ready for multiple near-term futures.
Under Secretary McCarthy notes that Gen. Murray functions as the Army's Chief Investments Officer (more precisely, its "chief futures modernization investment officer").:Section 4[Note 2] Funding for the top six priorities could mean that existing programs might be curtailed.
Targeting with thousand-mile missiles, "streamlining the sensor-shooter link at every echelon"—BG John Rafferty, in Integrated fire
NGCV Next generation combat vehicle
Much smaller and lighter ground combat vehicles, optionally unmanned (See Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC)) for robotic vehicles
If robotic combat vehicles (RCVs) do not need to be manned, neither would they need to be armored; use of sensors and batteries could replace the armor. Soldiers have learned to remotely operate the weapons on such RCVs in several days; the CCDC RCV Center and CFT are placing RCV prototypes and the Soldier's vehicle prototypes in company-level scenarios in Europe, in 2020 and forward.
JWA 19 (April–May 2019): I Corps, at JLBM (Joint base Lewis-McChord), is getting modernization training on the robotic complex breaching concept (RCBC), and the command post computing environment (CPCE) from Joint modernization command (JMC) training staff.
FVL "Our new approach is really to prototype as much as we can to help us identify requirements, so our reach doesn’t exceed our grasp. ... A good example is Future Vertical Lift: The prototyping has been exceptional." —Secretary of the Army Mark Esper
The FARA (Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) scout helicopter prototypes are to be designed to fly along urban streets, to survive air defenses. Five design vendors were selected, with downselect to two for prototyping by February 2020.
These aircraft are envisioned as platforms for utilizing sensor networks to control and enable weapons delivery, as demonstrated in a 2019 experiment.
Mobile & Expeditionary Network / MDO Multi-domain operations 
In the battlefield of the future, where nowhere is safe for long, "you will miss opportunities to get to positions of advantage if you don't synthesize the data very quickly"—LTG Wesley (AI for multi-domain command and control: MDC2)
Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (A-PNT) A solar-powered drone successfully stayed aloft at Yuma Proving Ground for nearly 26 days, at times descending to 55,000 feet to avoid adverse weather conditions, while remaining well above the altitudes flown by commercial aircraft, and landing per plan in the summer of 2018, to meet other testing commitments.
An A-PNT event is scheduled at WSMR for August 2019:Positioning, Navigation and Timing Assessment Exercise (PNTAX)
Prototype jam-resistant GPS kits are being fielded to 2nd Cavalry Regiment in EUCOM before year-end 2019. More than 300 Strykers of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment are being fitted with the Mounted Assured Precision Navigation & Timing System (MAPS), with thousands more planned for EUCOM.
A Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) to Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) is under development.
CCDC Army Research Laboratory researchers have proposed and demonstrated a way for small ground-based robots with mounted antennas to configure phased arrays, a technique which usually takes a static laboratory to develop. Instead the researchers used robots to covertly create and focus a highly directional parasitic array (see Yagi antenna).
Integrated Air and Missile Battle Command System (IBCS) award, including next software build. $238 million also funds initial prototypes of the command and control system for fielding in FY22.
Hypersonic glide vehicle launch preparations, beginning in 2020, and continuing with launches every six months.
At Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake an FVL CFT-sponsored demonstration of interconnected sensors handed-off the control of a glide munition which had been launched from a Grey Eagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS). During the flight of that munition, another group of sensors picked up a higher-priority target; another operator at the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) redirected the glide munition to the higher-priority target and destroyed it.
Sensor-to-shooter prototype for multi-domain battle, 2019 operational assessment: Air Force RCO / Army RCO / Network CFT
Natick Soldier RDEC has awarded an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contract to prototype soldier exoskeletons which augment human leg strength under harsh conditions.
Plans for the Infantry squad vehicle (ISV) are underway. An ISV is meant to be airdropped for a squad of 9 paratroopers.
Assured pointing, navigation and tracking (A-PNT) devices are being miniaturized, with increased redundant positioning sources. This aids wearability.
The British Army is also investigating innovations, such as robots and drones, including 70 technologies funded by a $1 billion (₤800 million) innovation fund launched in 2016. Two hundred troops will engage in "surveillance, long-range, and precision targeting, enhanced mobility and the re-supply of forces, urban warfare and enhanced situational awareness".
China — RAND simulations show Blue losses. Six of the top 15 defense companies in the world are now Chinese, in 2019 for the first time. The competition with China is being shaped in the current decade 2010-2020, according to David Kriete.
Headquarters (HQ) and commander
On July 13, 2018, U.S. Army Secretary Mark Esper said AFC's headquarters would be based in Austin, Texas.
AFC spreads across three locations totalling 75,000 square feet; one of the locations in a University of Texas System building at 210 W. Seventh St. in downtown Austin, on the 15th and 19th floors. The UT Regents will not be charging rent to AFC until December 2019. The command began initial operations on July 1, 2018.
On July 16, 2018, Lieutenant General John M. Murray was nominated for a fourth star and appointment as Army Futures Command's first commanding general.
His appointment was confirmed August 20, 2018 and he assumed command during the official activation ceremony of AFC on August 24, 2018, in Austin, Texas.
The AFC commander, in a hearing before Congress' House Armed Services Committee, projects that materiel will result from the value stream below, within a two-year time frame, from concept to Soldier. The commanding general is assisted by three deputy commanders.
the Futures and Concepts Center, led by AFC deputy commander Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, who is seeking 4 value streams for reducing the time invested to define a relevant requirement:
Experiments (Testing of a system to a known expectation of effects, or else observation of that system, in the absence of a specific expectation of effects)
Concepts development (Development of a relevant idea about that system)
Requirements development (Development of the terms and conditions for that system)
Combat Development element, Army Futures Command. Lt. Gen. James M. Richardson is the deputy commander. He assists the commander with efforts to assess and integrate the future operational environment, emerging threats, and technologies to develop and deliver concepts, requirements, and future force designs to posture the Army for the future.
The Capability development integration directorate (CDID) of each Center of Excellence (CoE), works with its CFT[Note 1] and its research, development and engineering center (RDEC) to develop operational experiments and prototypes to test.
The Battle Labs and The Research Analysis Center (TRAC) prototype and analyze the concepts to test.
JMC is capable of providing live developmental experiments to test those concepts or capabilities, "scalable from company level to corps, amid tough, realistic multi-domain operations".
RDECOM becomes the Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), part of the Combat Development element, on 3 February 2019.
Combat Systems Directorate will be led by Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski (Principal Military Deputy (PMILDEP) to the ASA(ALT)):AD2018-15,6b:PMILDEP will additionally be AFC director, Combat Systems who will produce those developed solutions and seek feedback.
Gen. Robert Abrams has tasked III Corps with providing Soldier feedback for the Next Generation Combat Vehicles CFT, XVIII Corps for the Soldier feedback on the Soldier lethality CFT, the Network CFT, as well as the Synthetic training CFT, and I Corps for the Long Range Precision Fires CFT.
Combat Systems refines, engineers, and produces the developed solutions from Combat Development.
An analysis by AMSAA can then assess that concept or capability, as a promising system for a materiel development decision.
... what I do think you will see is some of the capabilities the cross-functional teams are working will be in production and being delivered and in the hands of soldiers in the next two years" —Gen. John "Mike" Murray (2018).
Army Chief of Staff Milley is looking for AFC to attain full operational capability (FOC) by August 2019.
The capabilities as prioritized by the Chief of Staff, will use subject matter experts in the realms of requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test, resourcing, costing, and sustainment, using Cross Functional Teams (CFTs) for:
By Acquisition or Business System category (ACAT or BSC). The Weapon systems in each ACAT are sorted alphabetically by Weapon system name. Each weapon system might also be in several variants (Lettered); a weapon system's variants might be severally and simultaneously in the following phases of its Life Cycle, namely — °Materiel Solution Analysis; °Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction; °Engineering & Manufacturing Development; °Production & Deployment; °Operations & Support
^ abcdJP-1 p.xxi has the definition of operational control (OPCON). Note that "command authority may not be delegated" (COCOM being command authority). p.xxii has the definition of administrative control (ADCON): one application being coordinating authority.
^In, for example Waverider hypersonic weapons delivery, China has flown a Mach 5.5 vehicle for 400 seconds, at 30 km altitude, demonstrating large-angle deviations from a ballistic trajectory, as well as recovery of the payload. See
^As an example, any number of effects can be weaponized (see p.1 The New York Times 2 September 2018 "Invisible strikes may be cause of envoy's ills", describing the Microwave auditory effect), or else countered. Hypersonic vehicles are a countermeasure to ballistic missiles.