In the News

Wichita Eagle
Jerry Siebenmark

The U.S. Army created a new command focused on innovation, and it is looking for a home for its headquarters.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., thinks it should be in Wichita.

Moran met with Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy on March 15 to advocate for Wichita as the headquarters of the new Army Futures Command.

The new command is part of Army Secretary Mark Esper's efforts to reform the service's system of acquiring new equipment — weapons, combat vehicles, aircraft and computer hardware and software — more quickly and cost effectively.

"Past ways of thinking, organizing, and executing have limited our ability to keep pace with technological development and our potential adversaries," said Esper in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee last December. "There is a clear strategic imperative to reform our industrial-age acquisition systems and modernize as quickly and efficiently as possible."

To do this, the new command will look vastly different than the Army's other commands. According to published reports, the futures command will have fewer staff than other command headquarters, occupy less physical space, collaborate with academic institutions and the private sector and employ civilian workers focused on innovation, presumably in the area of technology.

Moran thinks Wichita qualifies in part because of Wichita State University, its Innovation Campus and the National Institute for Aviation Research. He also noted Wichita's aerospace industry and the city's "proven track record working with the federal government."

"A new command such as this ought to be located in a town that shares this innovative vision, and has the experience and talent in academia and industry to aid in the mission of Futures Command," Moran said. "Wichita . . . is uniquely suited to be the headquarters."

It's not clear if Wichita is even a consideration for the Army.

Col. Patrick Seiber, a spokesman for the Army Futures Command Task Force, said in an e-mail to The Eagle that the task force is looking at "multiple locations" for the headquarters but is "not in a position to openly discuss specific locations at this time."

He said the things the task force is looking for in a headquarters city include "availability of talent, accessibility, proximity to innovation centers, cost of living."

A spokeswoman for the Greater Wichita Partnership said on Friday the public-private economic development group was not aware of Wichita as a candidate for the Futures Command headquarters.

There is a connection already in place between WSU, the Innovation Campus and the Army. Last fall, WSU's FirePoint Innovations Center entered into a two-year, $1.9 million agreement with the Army's aviation and missile organization to speed the development and production of new technology.

As for the Army Futures Command headquarters decision, Seiber said the task force will make its recommendation to senior Army leaders in the next six months.

"The headquarters will not be fully established in the new location until 2019," Seiber said.

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