AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Military leaders in Texas say the future of the nation’s fighting force relies on technology to protect American soldiers.
General John “Mike” Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, joined Capital Factory founder and CEO Joshua Baer for a discussion about convergence of military, technology and entrepreneurship. Capital Factory connects entrepreneurs in Texas with investors and consumers.
What started as 40 people in July 2018 has turned into 26,000, including 400 at headquarters in Austin. The operating budget has ballooned to approximately $38 billion, Murray said at Wednesday’s panel with Baer.
Asked about how to sustain current activity with forward-thinking ventures, Murray emphasized “figuring out the right balance between how do we fund everything that is important to us and how do we sustain everything else we’re trying to do.”
On recent developments with Iran, Murray said he had been in touch with the Pentagon, but is responsible for looking further ahead.
“I think it’s important that a portion of the Army, and that is Army Futures Command, stays focused on the future, and does not get themselves wrapped into the day-to-day business of the Army, which is exactly why we set up Army Futures Command,” Murray said.
As the military looks to modernize the the country’s fighters, service members are turning to Murray and others in similar leadership positions for answers. One of the Army’s top modernization priorities is soldier lethality, meaning giving soldiers the best tools possible on the battlefield. Part of that includes protecting those troops.
Daniel Freyburger served in the Marines from 2001 through 2009.
“Did a couple of tours to Iraq,” he recalled. There, he suffered a traumatic brain injury.
“It’s memory loss, and being around blasts and so forth, it is still something that I am working through,” he explained.
During Wednesday’s discussion, Freyburger asked Gen. Murray what Army Futures Command was doing for troops like him.
“Are y’all looking at actually being able to predict, plan, and act on different combat-related injuries prior to it becoming a VA issue?” Marine veteran Daniel Freyburger asked Murray.
Murray said the Army is collaborating with companies that make football equipment, specifically headgear and helmets, to establish new techniques that could protect soldiers.
“It’s not only TBI, so the body armor, research goes into that, all kinds of research that goes into how we are equipping our soldiers from a protection standpoint,” Murray added.
Baer said Capital Factory and other Texas organizations have been eager to partner with the military, which he believed was a factor in the Army choosing Austin as its home base for the new division.
“How can we help be part of the mission?” he asked. “I think they felt something different from Texas than maybe other places.”
Army Futures Command has grown sizeably since it was announced in July 2018. Murray said it started as a group of 40 people, which has ballooned to 26,000 worldwide, including 400 on the ground in Austin. The budget has grown, too.
“FY19, the fiscal year we just completed, it was just south of $38 billion,” Murray said, adding that the Army has also budgeted approximately $10 billion over a five-year period to invest in companies working on solutions to Army problems.