AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Military leaders along with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn celebrated the completion of the first phase of training for its first cohort in the Army Futures Command’s ‘Software Factory’ program.
The program, based at Austin Community College’s Rio Grande campus, is a first of its kind in the U.S. military to have technical instruction led by soldiers to prepare the Army’s ability to respond to future cyber and technical needs.
“You’re at the forefront of our military modernization efforts,” Sen. Cornyn said at the ceremony. “This program by soldiers for soldiers will help build and retain the top talent our nation, our military needs in order to tackle the threats of today and get ahead of those that we will face, we know we will face, tomorrow.”
The goal is to enable the Army to handle technological issues internally.
“We will prepare for a future that enables in-house coding solutions to problem solving, without a reliance on external contractors,” Chris Lowman, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary, said at Friday’s event.
Those solutions range from preventing and responding to cybersecurity attacks, to improving technology soldiers use daily.
“If we were going to maintain our advantages, which has always been frankly, technology-driven in modern warfare, then we’re going to need to up our game,” Sen. Cornyn said, speaking to the issue of cybersecurity.
Second Lieutenant Aanand Shah, part of the first cohort, spoke about the impact he can personally have on everyday technology for soldiers.
“Being able to have soldiers like me build just an app for another soldier. Something that you’ve already done some hardship that you’ve already gone through that, you know, the kind of the system is broken. Now I have the tools to fix it,” Shah explained.
He’s currently developing an app called ‘My Squad.’
“The idea is that every squad leader needs to be able to be in touch with their soldiers, needs to know a little bit about them, about their families. And we’re trying to make it easier to kind of put that all in one single source of truth,” Shah said.
After completing the first phase of his training, he’ll now be paired with a Silicon Valley expert to put the app into production.
“A year from now, I’ll go from a baby developer to a proper full-fledged developer that can build these apps and hopefully proliferate these lessons to the next batch of soldiers,” Shah explained.
The second class now begins its first phase of training. The program had nearly 2,000 applicants for just 30 spots.