WASHINGTON -- The Senate confirmed the nomination of Maj. Gen. James Richardson Sept. 4 as deputy commander of Army Futures Command, said Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy.

Richardson, who will be promoted to lieutenant general, will be the AFC deputy commanding general for combat development. Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley will be the deputy commanding general for futures and concepts, and Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski will be deputy commanding general for combat systems.

The deputies, along with AFC's commander, Gen. John (Mike) Murray, are the right people to shake things up and bring capability to the warfighter in a timely and cost-effective manner, McCarthy said.

McCarthy and Murray spoke at a Defense News Conference, Sept. 5, regarding modernization and Army Futures Command.

Richardson served most recently as special advisor for program integration in the Office of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. He previously served as deputy commanding general of III Corps, and before that commanded the Army Aviation and Missile Command.

Wesley commanded the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia, before he became the integration management officer for AFC.

Ostrowski has been serving as principle military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army (acquisition, logistics and technology). He will remain in that position as he assumes his new role, officials said.

PEOPLE KEY TO MODERNIZATION

When people think modernization, they think technology. But successful modernization is also "about people, conviction and belief," McCarthy said.

For example, AFC personnel will be working amidst technology innovators and disruptors in incubator hubs scattered around Austin -- where AFC headquarters is located -- and within the University of Texas system, he said.

Representatives from small and big businesses with access to capital will also be in those hubs interacting with Army personnel, he added. That's a very different environment than that found on an installation.

Army personnel need to feel comfortable communicating with these representatives, and to learn to thrive in that environment for this venture to be successful, he said.

The other important people component, he said, is the support AFC has been getting from top Army leaders, who spent many hours combing through the modernization budget to find science and technology dollars to fund the Army's six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, a next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, network modernization, air and missile defense, and Soldier lethality.

About 80 percent of the science and technology dollars in the Army's modernization budget are going to those priorities, he said, including funding for about 18 weapons systems.

DISRUPTIVE ENVIRONMENT

Murray added AFC personnel will need to tolerate a certain amount of disruptiveness compared to the traditional acquisition cycle, and will need to think creatively about novel ways of using ideas and technologies that might benefit Soldiers.

Personnel will be encouraged to take measured risks that will sometimes pay off and sometimes not, Murray said. If not, the key "is to fail early and fail cheaply," as they also need to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

There also needs to be a discussion within the Army on how to reward good talent, he said, whether it comes from the AFC's cross-functional teams or program managers, whose career path is much different from, say, an officer on a path toward becoming a brigade commander.