Army Futures Command (AFC) held an industry day to discuss insights from Project Convergence 22 (PC22) and Tech Gateway 22 in Austin, Texas, Aug. 22, 2023.
William Nelson, Deputy to the commanding general of AFC; Lt. Gen. Scott McKean, deputy commanding general of AFC and Futures and Concepts director, Maj. Gen. Miles Brown, AFC Chief of Staff, commanding general of the U.S. Army Comb
at Capabilities Development Command, hosted the event, providing remarks and answering questions from various industry members.
Before moving into the insights on PC22 and Technology Gateway went into full swing and the Q&A section of the event began, Nelson gave opening comments about the importance of PC and getting initial feedback and observations from Soldiers while conducting these experiments.
“I had the opportunity to be part of the very first Project Convergence when I was a Cross Functional Team director,” said Nelson. “I saw firsthand the value of putting industry with Soldiers in the field, working through problems, getting things to work; you just can’t replicate that in a lab.”
A primary subject discussed with industry was PC22. PC22, the Army hosted an all-service multinational event from Oct. 3, 2022, to Nov. 9, 2022, and tested over 300 technologies, including long-range fires, unmanned aerial systems, autonomous fighting vehicles, and next-generation sensors. PC22 also focused on joint and multinational interoperability with the U.K. and Australia’s participation.
As part of PC22 observations McKean discussed the importance of integration. “Interoperability is the means to share data with other services and countries. That’s not sufficient. Our objective is for integration, which I would define as the ability to pass actionable data,” said McKean.
This was an important point for industry to understand how we operate.
McKean gave a background on the evolution of PC as it increased in scope, complexity, and scale before getting into some of the revelations that had come out of the experiment. PC22 showed the need for modeling and simulation at scale, demonstrated the need for a system-of-systems approach for capability development, and revealed a critical need for standards to enable decisions at machine speed.
As part of the campaign of learning and a lead up to PC22 AFC incorporated a new event called Technology Gateway.
Technology Gateway enables collaborative experimentation with industry partners to identify novel technologies and drive the collective innovation necessary to help shape Army transformation. Over 200 technology proposals were reviewed, and over 50 technologies participated from over 50 different large and small businesses.
“One of the things we’ve seen in the last five years is that AFC brings rigor to the process of requirements, experimentation concepts, and integration, said Brown. “AFC brings a rigorous activity and focused lens on what future capability is supposed to be. Gen. Rainey has told us to focus on future formations in the context of human-machine integration and what is next in command and control.”
After listening to the key takeaways from PC22 and Technology Gateway, Nelson, McKean, and Brown formed a panel to begin taking various questions from the audience.
The panel was asked who could participate in Project Convergence Capstone 4, the newest version of PC as it continues to evolve; questions about quantum computing and communications, bringing in new international partners, high altitude platforms, and many other questions rounded out the discussion.
Industry Day provided an opportunity for AFC and industry to engage with each other over lessons learned from Army experimentation and for industry members to ask questions. Over 300 unique participants joined the event both in person and online, allowing industry members to see what the Army is looking at in future capabilities and integration.