By Phil Fountain, U.S. Army Futures CommandAugust 7, 2019
AUSTIN, Texas (July 26, 2019) -- Soldiers and civilians from across the Army Futures Command converged in Austin this week to dive into the planning efforts for the command's first multi-year Enterprise Campaign Plan.
Following several weeks of input from headquarters staff, AFC planners held a workshop with representatives from the command's cross-functional teams, or CFTs, and other subordinate units, which are dispersed in locations throughout the nation.
"I quickly noticed, there's a lot of people trying to do multiple things," said Lt. Col. Ron Niedert, deputy chief of staff for AFC's Fort Sill, Oklahoma-based Air Missile Defense CFT. "This campaign plan is focused on getting the headquarters in the right direction, which will pay huge dividends to subordinate organizations."
Niedert was among more than a dozen representatives from various organizations, including: the Combat Capabilities Development Command and Army Test and Evaluation Command, both based at Maryland's Aberdeen Providing Ground; the Futures & Concepts Center, headquartered at Fort Eustis, Virginia; the U.S. Army Reserve's Houston-based 75th Innovation Command; and other CFTs.
Last year, AFC was activated, transitioned the Futures and Concepts Center, Combat Capabilities Development Command, and eight CFTs, in an effort to drive forward the Army's six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires; a next-generation combat vehicle; future vertical lift platforms; a mobile and expeditionary Army network; air and missile defense capabilities; and Soldier lethality. The command is now driving towards a perpetually modernizing Army to provide future warfighters with the concepts, capabilities and organizational structures they need to dominate a future battlefield.
At the time of activation, there were 12 people assigned. Today, AFC has grown to more than 24,000 Soldiers and civilians, in 25 states and 15 countries, said Gen. John M. "Mike" Murray, AFC's commanding general. The command has established its footprint, filled key personnel positions, and is undergoing process development as the Army's newest command in more than 40 years.
"We're a start-up trying to manage a merger as we've assumed command of subordinate organizations from other organizations across the Army," Murray said. "All of this has been managed by the headquarters in Austin."
Those who attended the workshop helped headquarters planners identify barriers and potential risks that could impede the AFC mission. They shared their experience and perspectives to help shape the conceptual lines of effort and potential objectives.
"From my foxhole, from the CFT, and my interactions with AFC, we may not always be efficient, but we're effective," Niedert said. "We're going to accomplish the things that need to be accomplished."
AFC planners leveraged user-centered design principles during the workshop to uncover obstacles to momentum and assess priorities for the future campaign plan.
"I believe the campaign plan will allow us to have a unity of effort and solve the big, big problems, maybe one every other year, that the Army needs to fix for modernization," said Brig. Gen. James "Jay" Gallivan, AFC's chief of staff, to those in attendance. "It's got to be real simple. We have to speak in a simple, coherent language."
Gallivan said the commanding general considers the campaign plan as a top priority. Rather than rely on an outside team to complete the plan, Murray wanted to better understand the environment and build an internal team to work on the final plan.
The Enterprise Campaign Plan will provide specific direction and detail for implementation of: AFC objectives; cross-organizational interaction; resources; roles, responsibilities, and authorities; nesting within national security strategic documents; and interface with Department of Defense and Army headquarters elements, as well as major command and joint service partners.
"Gen. Murray said he wants to work with the plans team weekly, at a minimum," Gallivan said. "He wants to bring on all of the commanders, CFT directors, center directors, and have them part of the process before he approves it. This is not a commander who wants a nice chart on the wall to brief VIPs. He wants to drive the organization's momentum. It matters. I believe in it."
The input received this week will be synthesized and analyzed along with feedback provided by representatives from AFC leadership, headquarters staff with the Department of the Army, and the local G-3/5/7 (Army Operations, Plans, and Training) personnel who participated in similar workshops. Together, the information will inform the final campaign concept and Enterprise Campaign Plan.
But the process does not end with the plan itself. Once complete, the campaign will continue forward in an iterative way with performance measures.
"I think we need some big objectives," Gallivan said. "To do assessments and to do feedback, and to be constantly campaigning, either assessing the campaign plan or assessing where we are on a key objective."
To be successful, AFCs campaigning effort will require cohesion between the headquarters and the subordinate units. Taking time, like this week's workshop, will go a long way to bridge gaps and create opportunities for collaboration.
"Everybody comes to work and wants to do well, you can sense that; that they want to win," Niedert said. "We've got a long way to go, but we've got people that really care and want to do well, and when this thing is really stood up, it's going to be a force to be reckoned with."