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Army makes it official: Raleigh misses out on Army Futures Command

July 13th, 2018

The Army’s effort to modernize its forces will headquarter in Austin, Texas, top military officials announced Friday.

Raleigh was one of five finalists for the Army Futures Command, which will have about 500 people attached to it, will be led by a top general and will focus of the branch’s largest modernization effort since the 1970s.

Army brass complimented all five finalists Friday but said Austin scored the highest, offering the best combination of academia, innovative private sector spirit, cost of living and quality of life. N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Friday that North Carolina “put its best foot forward” in the competition. The state offered the command free space on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus in an effort to win the deal.

This command is meant to overhaul the Army, providing a central point for modernization efforts as the branch prepares for the future of war. The goal, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper said Friday, is to mesh better with innovators outside the military and evolve the Army faster.

Army officials, who announced the decision via a press conference that streamed online, would not reveal the incentives Texas offered up to win the command, saying that offer is on the table but details are being worked out. An initial “beachhead” team was in the air heading to Austin Friday morning as Esper and other top leaders of the branch made their announcement.

It will take about a year to staff the command, and the effort’s leadership has not been publicly named.

The Cooper Administration said officials here initially pitched the Army on Research Triangle Park, which is already home to an Army research operation. That focus shifted to N.C. State’s Centennial Campus, home to various research facilities and partnership with more than 60 corporate, government and non-profit partners.

Army officials visited the area in June.

The Army would have had about 100,000 square feet, free for three years, under the deal discussed, according to the Cooper Administration. The effort involved a broad coalition of state and local officials, along with area universities, the community college system, local chambers of commerce, economic development staff and members of the state’s congressional delegation.

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, said in a statement that he’s “deeply disappointed” by the decision, but N.C. officials “worked together to submit our strongest proposal possible.”

“It is a testament to the strength of the Research Triangle’s business, academic, and military communities that Raleigh was considered in the final round after the Army received applications from major cities across the country,” Tillis said in his statement.

The five finalists were Raleigh, Austin, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Boston. Army officials said their list started with 150 cities.

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