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New Army Secretary Committed to Designing Fresh Future Readiness Blueprint

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January 5, 2018
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WASHINGTON — The new U.S. Army secretary, confirmed in mid-November, has spent his first days in office on the ground with troops both in Afghanistan and at the National Training Center in California examining the readiness of the force and how the deployed are faring in their mission. But he’s also turned his attention to laying some early groundwork for the Army’s new Futures Command focused on modernizing the service.

While readiness of the current force is Mark Esper’s top priority, making sure it is modernized and capable into the future is a close second. “Modernization is future readiness, and so this is my message to acquisition folks, too: You are critical to the future readiness of the Army, so we have to get it right,” he recalled telling those tasked with standing up the Futures Command, which is expected to reach initial operational capability this summer, during a recent visit.

The Army announced the new organization in October at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention in Washington along with its plan to prioritize modernization efforts in six areas: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality. Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon was chosen to spearhead a task force in charge of the formation of the command, and “cross-functional team” leaders were named late last year to tackle each priority.

Esper told Defense News in an exclusive Jan. 3 interview in his Pentagon office that while he has met with those shaping the command and provided his view on the importance of the effort, “I don’t want to give any guidance, I don’t want to utter a word that throws them all off from one direction because that is the risk there.”

Instead, he wants to wait to fully weigh in when the new task force comes to him with options in the February or March time frame.

Much is on the table from how the command will be organized to what that means for other commands such as Training and Doctrine Command or Army Materiel Command. “We have had conference calls with the major commands and everybody is on board and agrees that we need a different way of doing business again, getting back to that key outcome, which is giving the soldier what they need when they need it, and there is support across the board with regard to that,” Esper said.

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