Four years in, AFC continues to bring Army modernization to the forefront

By Maureena Thompson, Army Futures CommandAugust 24, 2022

Army modernization efforts extend across land, air, sea, space and cyberspace.
Army modernization efforts extend across land, air, sea, space and cyberspace to ensure the future force can deliver overmatch on any battlefield. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army graphic by Shelby Burns, Army Futures Command) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

AFC has reached milestones across a number of signature modernization efforts, including in air and missile defense, long range precision fires, the network and the synthetic training environment.

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.

U.S. Army Soldier Pfc. Patrick McGarry aims downrange.
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldier Pfc. Patrick McGarry, assigned to the U.S. Army Garrison Headquarters Company, aims downrange on Camp Casey, Republic of Korea, on Oct. 26, 2020. In late 2021, AFC’s Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DoIS) coordinated production of the Army Modernization Intelligence Estimate, which was published by the National Ground Intelligence Center. DoIS engaged more than 40 Army entities to socialize the product and inform Army and Joint Force modernization efforts. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Mario Hernandez Lopez, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan-Casey) VIEW ORIGINAL
Staff Sgt. Stefanie Marshall takes Chief Sgt. Maj. Laragione's temperature.
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory (USAARL) Staff Sgt. Stefanie Marshall takes U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) Chief Sgt. Maj. Vic Laragione’s temperature at Fort Rucker, Ala. on Oct. 21, 2020, as part of check-in procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the U.S. Army’s COVID-19 response, scientists at MRDC’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases developed the Biodefense Mass Sequencing and Surveillance (BMASS) tool, which enables mass testing of a population for diseases, including COVID-19. BMASS, which can be implemented quickly with equipment already on-hand at DOD Public Health Laboratories, allows for the pooling of thousands of samples that are tied back to the originating sample via a molecular barcode. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Scott Childress, MRDC) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Soldiers carry ammunition cans while wearing body armor.
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Lt. Michael Singer (front) and 1st Lt. Mathew McKenzie, 1-187 Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), carry ammunition cans while wearing body armor at the Best Ranger Competition on April 10, 2022, at Fort Benning, Ga. In early 2022, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of AFC, co-hosted an event with Johns Hopkins University to mark the conclusion of a 10-year research initiative, the Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance. The alliance, which consisted of 25 university and research partners, helped to develop new armor designs and materials that will strengthen Soldier lethality and next generation combat vehicle capabilities. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kelvin Johnson Jr, 40th Public Affairs Detachment) VIEW ORIGINAL
A  drone lit up in green during a nighttime exercise at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A drone lit up in green during a nighttime exercise at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in October 2021. Since 2018, AFC’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/ Space Cross-Functional Team (APNT/Space CFT) has hosted the annual PNT Assessment Exercise, or PNTAX, where government and industry partners showcase space-based, terrestrial, high altitude and aerial technologies that meet Army requirements to enhance lethality and enable survivability. The APNT/Space CFT and the Army are also working with U.S. Space Force, the Space Development Agency, the Intelligence Community and commercial partners to inform and align space-based requirements. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Anthony Sualog, Army Futures Command) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

Lt. Gen. James M. Richardson, Acting Commanding General of AFC, shakes the hands of recruits.
Lt. Gen. James M. Richardson, Acting Commanding General of Army Futures Command, shakes the hands of new U.S. Army recruits during a Meet Your Army event at a Round Rock Express Minor League Baseball game in Round Rock, Texas, on Aug. 18, 2022. While staff across AFC contribute to modernization aims, the future Soldier remains at the heart of AFC activities. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Patrick Hunter, Army Futures Command) VIEW ORIGINAL