Army modernization is not just about materiel or capabilities solutions – it is also about modernizing the talent pool responsible for manning and conquering future warfare.
During the week of Oct. 25, an Army-wide planning team gathered virtually and in Austin, Texas, to develop options for the next steps in a pilot program for Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians in the artificial intelligence (AI) and agile software development workforce.
“The operational planning team is excited to be helping build new career models for existing members of the Army who are eager to learn and apply new skills, while at the same time working toward an innovative career development framework for the future Army workforce,” said Kate Kelley, chief human capital officer at Army Futures Command.
Army Futures Command has made significant strides in talent modernization, launching the Army Software Factory, AI Scholars and AI Cloud Technician programs since its operationalization three years ago. These programs are proving to be valuable testbeds for modernized talent pools.
Students in the innovative computer technology programs will eventually graduate and move from the classroom into an Army human resources arsenal with skills in AI and software development, creating a new – but welcome – challenge for Army senior leaders: how to best use these new skillsets across the force.
Maj. Joseph Johnson, a military talent manager at Army Futures Command, ran the operational planning team with the goal of identifying common criteria for the pilot program, including what levels of skills the students need to achieve, how many trained personnel will become available and how the Army should array recently trained personnel into the force.
The group of Army stakeholders created four pathway options that will be presented to Army senior leadership for decision. The options range from retaining talent in Army Futures Command to deploying talent out to program executive offices to employing hybrid alignment that could include partnership with the Multi Domain Task Force or Corps level.
Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, told the group that pilot efforts need to “bake in how we take care of our people that jumped in and took a great risk with us,” referring the inaugural Army Software Factory and AI program classes. Murray said leveraging his command’s affinity for experimentation “is the best use of these news developed capabilities.”
The planning group also looked beyond the students. Michael Formica, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command executive officer, said “leader development and education will be key” in ensuring the service is ready to integrate these teams into formations.
The efforts of Army Futures Command and this planning team will ensure modernization efforts are realized across the Army to enable self-sustaining talent from all ranks within the military and civilian workforce and increase the digital proficiency commanders increasingly rely upon.
“It is incredibly important to our Army that we ensure talent is optimized. We need to integrate new, in-demand skills and capabilities into our operational force to enhance commanders’ ability to make decisions faster, at the speed of relevance,” Murray said.