The stars descended upon Joint Reserve Base Ellington Field Feb. 14, 2022, when U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 75th Innovation Command welcomed Gen. James E. Rainey, commanding general, Army Futures Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian A. Hester, command sergeant major, Army Futures Command, to discuss the present state and future opportunities for the Army and Army Reserve.
“Creating [Army Futures Command] was a bold and necessary decision,” said Rainey, who took command of AFC in October 2022. “AFC exists to transform the Army to ensure war winning future readiness. This transformation hinges on a seamless synchronization of AFC’s priorities with those of our modernization partners such as the 75th [Innovation Command].”
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, AFC has more than 17,000 personnel worldwide. It is the newest of the Army’s four major commands, established in 2018 to ensure the Army and its Soldiers remain at the forefront of technological innovation and warfighting ability. AFC’s three overarching priorities are prioritizing people, designing Army 2040 and delivering Army 2030. The pursuit of these priorities encompasses six functions: future operational environment, research, concepts, experimentation, requirements and integration – with support from industry, academia and Joint and multinational partners.
Rainey explained AFC’s priorities and prospects to prepare the Army – particularly its people, training and equipment – for potential adversaries in 2030 and 2040.
“AFC analyzes the evolving environment and employs applicable research to develop practical solutions for any threat our Soldiers face every day for the next 17 years,” said Rainey, who previously served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and commandant of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. “AFC must continually integrate these solutions among our defense, industry and academic partners to ensure the Army dominates the land battlefield as part of joint force.
Maj. Gen. Martin F. Klein, commanding general, 75th Innovation Command, gave his distinguished guests an overview of the 75th IC’s structure and capabilities and how they support its recently revised mission and vision.
“The 75th Innovation Command’s mission rapidly enhances the strategic readiness of the Army by providing direct support to Army Futures Command's priorities,” said Klein who, in his civilian capacity serves as senior vice president for an artificial intelligence software provider. “Our vision combines the unique blend of civilian skills and military expertise to accelerate and expand the adoption of new capabilities.”
The 75th IC complements AFC’s priorities through a comprehensive philosophy of support that embraces talent management, academic engagement, technical reconnaissance and protection and subject matter expertise and support.
“[The 75th] is more than a mere innovation ‘body shop,’ said Klein. “We provide units of action comprising teams of technologists whose cutting-edge military expertise and industry knowledge help solve the Army’s toughest problems.”
Rainey, Klein, Hester and other 75th IC senior leaders discussed how their respective commands can resolve those problems through constant collaboration and cooperation to ensure today’s Army forges a formidable force that will overcome any obstacle and neutralize any threat.
“The Army’s cutting-edge capabilities need modern facilities sustained by qualified people,” said Rainey. “Rapid advances in technology requires the Army to create new skill identifiers and [Military Occupation Specialties] to attract new talent.”
Hester, whose 32-year Army career includes three tours to Iraq, two to Afghanistan and one to Kosovo, expanded on the Army’s recruiting and retention initiatives.
“The Army is actively combating the stereotype that it’s an antiquated organization,” said Hester. “Recruiters are making closer connections with high schools and colleges that have robust STEM programs … AFC and the 75th support their efforts by engaging with students, professors, entrepreneurs and young professionals at science and technology conferences, workshops and competitions … It’s imperative that we demonstrate to these innovators who often have little direct interaction with the military they may serve their country by applying their education and experience to help build the Army of 2040.”
Rainey’s visit concluded with a candid Q&A followed by photos, handshakes and salutes. As the SUVs escorted Rainey and his team back to their headquarters in Austin, Klein reflected on their enduring partnerships dedicated to improving readiness and lethality across the Army both today and tomorrow.
“Gen. Rainey’s visit codified the 75th’s close partnership with AFC,” said Klein. “His expectations align perfectly with our command’s priorities and capabilities with AFC and the Army Reserve … AFC’s leadership recognizes that the 75th and the Army Reserve challenge the status quo by bringing skills, training and expertise acquired in civilian sector to the fight.”