AUSTIN, Texas — This Friday, Aug. 26, Army Futures Command plans to celebrate turning four with a ceremony that will acknowledge the command’s first 100 plank holders.
Individuals to be honored include Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians who were assigned permanently to the command between July 2018 and January 2019, a period that captured the busy months preceding and following AFC’s official activation on Aug. 24, 2018.
AFC Support Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Johanna Thompson Wynne, who joined the command in November 2018, is on the list of plank holders to be recognized and recalls the launch of AFC as being both exciting and demanding.
“High energy, long days,” Wynne said of the experience, adding that “everyone on the team was motivated to build the AFC mission and appreciated the challenge before us.”
“We all came with different experiences, but none of us had ever been part of the stand-up of a four-star headquarters,” she explained, noting that “patience and persistence” combined successfully with strong leadership to forge a productive path forward.
“I am proud to be a part of the first few teammates that helped plant the seeds,” Wynne said.
Col. Jason LaCroix, currently Brigade Commander of the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado, worked as a Design Team and Plans Officer at AFC from July 2018 to July 2019. He described his assignment at AFC as “very rewarding and challenging at the same time.”
The experience drove home for him “the importance of interfacing with industry, academic partners and small business in order to collaborate on development efforts.”
“They are agile and have incredible capabilities,” he said of the external innovators.
LaCroix, who will also be honored as an AFC plank holder, appreciated the collaborative energy applied to “thinking about innovative ways to bring in talent from across the Army and industry” to support and guide the modernization process.
“It was a privilege to be part of the foundation in building the framework on the Army’s new path to modernization,” he said.
The plank holder designation, which has roots in U.S. Navy ship commissioning traditions, is used by various U.S. military organizations to show appreciation for the contributions of founding team members.
While Friday’s event will emphasize the influential actions of AFC’s original staff, it will also provide an opportunity to spotlight ongoing work and present-day achievements.
Examples of recent command successes include releasing the Army Medical Modernization Strategy, a comprehensive framework for Army health care modernization; contributing to the development of the Mobile Protected Firepower, the first all-new combat vehicle to be added to the Army inventory since the 1980s; and working with Army partners to enable the most consecutive days in the air on record for a Zephyr unmanned aerial system.
Activities have additionally resulted in significant gains in intelligence and security, medical and materiel research, and assured positioning, navigation and timing/space, to name a few.
Moreover, since becoming the Army’s newest four-star command, AFC has served to synchronize and align modernization initiatives, beginning at the earliest stages of concepts and requirements development.
The AFC modernization process prioritizes:
Understanding and preparing for the increased complexities and demands of the future operational environment;
Engaging the right internal and external stakeholders to rapidly advance innovative solutions and new technologies;
And ensuring Soldiers — and candid Soldier feedback mechanisms — remain the focal point of future materiel design and prototype testing.
AFC-led efforts such as the Project Convergence campaign of modernization learning, experimentation and demonstration also function to ensure Army modernization is feeding harmoniously into broader Joint and Multinational Force modernization aims.
Driving each activity are the dedicated Soldiers and civilians who make up the command and who continue to expand AFC’s reach and impact.