MESSAGE FROM AFC LEADERSHIP
U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) made significant strides in 2020 in enabling Army modernization and enhancing the Army’s current and future contribution to the Joint Force to deter conflict or win if deterrence fails. AFC made significant advances in modernization while contending with the COVID-19 pandemic and playing a key role in developing treatments and a vaccine.
In 2020 AFC launched and enhanced initiatives including the Future Operating Environment (FOE), Future Study Program (FSP), and Team Ignite. The FOE and FSP provide an understanding of the future environment and Team Ignite brings together concept developers, scientists, and engineers to conceptualize the warfighting concepts, capabilities, human talent, and organization constructs through which the Army will develop and deliver its contribution to Joint All Domain Warfare.
The Character of War — not the Nature of War — is changing. Future battlefields will be incredibly lethal. Hyper-activity will accelerate decision cycles. Sensor “saturation” will make it impossible to remain unseen and units will have to operate in a widely dispersed manner. The key capabilities are likely to be: autonomy, robotics, artificial intelligence, data, and networks.
AFC launched Project Convergence in 2020. 750 personnel contributed from three installations dispersed across 1,000 miles, spending six weeks in the dirt experimenting and demonstrating new capabilities. Participants demonstrated decreased sensor-to-shooter processing and execution time, going from tens of minutes to tens of seconds. We will continue our Campaign of Learning, conducting experiments on a monthly basis. The momentum we have created will set us up for continued success as we integrate our Joint partners in Project Convergence 2021 and our allies and partners in Project Convergence 2022 and beyond.
This is Army Futures Command
AFC’s incredible workforce is the foundation of our success. We are committed to supporting and executing the Army People Strategy. To this end, we enhanced our use of Direct Hire Authority to get the right talent hired faster. AFC implemented several first-of-their-kind technology talent initiatives, establishing the first-ever Soldier-led Software Factory in Austin, TX and an Artificial Intelligence degree program for Soldiers and Civil Servants at Carnegie Mellon University.
AFC’s accomplishments in 2020 and our momentum set the conditions for even greater success in 2021. We remain committed to working as part of an inclusive and innovative enterprise and look forward to partnering on a broad basis to ensure we provide the nation with an Army capable of persevering peace and security for the United States.
ASSESSMENTS AND CONCEPTS
DRIVE ALL ASPECTS OF AFC'S MISSION
FUTURE OPERATING ENVIRONMENT
The FOE guides critical analysis and informs decisions on future warfighting concepts, organizational constructs, and capabilities.
FUTURE STUDY PROGRAM
The FSP examines how to integrate emerging technologies in innovative ways informing how to equip, organize, and operate the future Army.
Concept developers, scientists, and engineers produce capability requirements and future warfighting concepts that integrate warfighting experience with scientific and technological expertise.
CENTERPIECE OF ARMY TRANSFORMATION
AFC LAUNCHES PROJECT CONVERGENCE
- Campaign of Learning – Experimentation and demonstration
- Address future warfighting challenges – speed and scale
- All Sensors, Best Shooters, Right Command and Control Nodes
- Support the Joint kill web
FIVE CORE ELEMENTS
- PEOPLE: Our foundation
- WEAPONS SYSTEMS: 31+3 signature systems
- C2: Integration of weapons and C2 systems into Joint force
- INFORMATION: Leverage info & data at scale, faster than adversaries
- TERRAIN: Right people, systems, authorities in the right place
WINNING TOGETHER MATTERS MORE.
PROJECT CONVERGENCE 2020 IN FOCUS
- Theory to experimentation and demonstration in under 18 months
- 750 soldiers and scientists; 3 installations; dispersed over 1,000 miles
- Decreased sensor-to-shooter processing time and execution – tens of minutes to tens of seconds
- Targeting data transmitting ground-to-air; air-to-ground; air-to-air
- Extended Army division battlespace to over 60 kilometers (37 miles)
- Autonomous air-ground 3D mapping, reconnaissance, flight, weapons launch; using passive sensors
- Demonstrated Artificial Intelligence (AI)-aided Threat Detection and Recognition (AiTDR)
- Tactical Space Layer provided on-demand direct-to-theater deep sensing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; digitally connected capabilities resulting in unprecedented sensor-to-shooter timelines
- Government-owned, open-source algorithm to process data; recommend best available weapons for strikes
- Data collection plan enables deep after-action analysis
PROJECT CONVERGENCE WAY AHEAD
- Project Convergence 2021 – Integrate Joint Partners (JOINT)
– Army contribution to Joint All Domain Warfare
- Project Convergence 2022 – Integrate Allies and Partners (COMBINED)
– Army contribution to Combined Joint All Domain Warfare
Project Convergence is a campaign of learning to aggressively pursue an Artificial Intelligence and machine learning-enabled battlefield management system
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY DEEP DIVES
- ESTABLISHED shared definitions within technology domains enabling greater collaboration and assess overlap and dependencies across technology areas.
- DISCUSSED expected technology performance metrics across the near, mid, and far-term to enable persistent modernization beyond 2028.
- EXPLORED areas in which the Army can monitor, shape, or lead technological advancements to drive strategic resourcing and effective collaboration with DoD, Industry, and Academic partners.
CONDUCTED technical peer reviews of 17 technology focus areas:
- Internet of Battlefield
- Mobile Power
- Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning (AI/ML)
- Highly Directed Radio Frequency (RF)
- Directed Energy
- Protection Materials
- Synthetic Biology
- Convergent Manufacturing
- Sensing – Acoustic
- Sensing – Quantum
- Sensing – Electro Optical and Infrared (EO/IR)
- Sensing – RF
- Personnel Assessment
A HOLISTIC & INCLUSIVE ENTERPRISE APPROACH
ALLIES AND PARTNERS
Global Mission Program
- 20 locations in 14 Countries
- Accelerated acquisition of SPIKE-NLOS missile (Israeli system) in support of Project Convergence by leveraging Foreign Comparative Testing Program Authorities
- $13.8M in competitive program funding received in support of international cooperative activities
- 246 International Agreements across 22 partners leveraged in order to share RDT&E data and develop cooperative projects in FY20
Army Applications Lab
- 3000 non-traditional business contacts
- 15 contracts in 29 days or less
- 14 solutions in 12 weeks
- 2,400 submissions for projects
AAL Cohort Program
Small Business Office
Established AFC “Front Door” to enable easier access for new partners to engage AFC. To view, visit the AFC Small Business page.
Innovation Combine Accelerator attracted 67 participants with an average Technology Readiness Level of 4 – 5 and 25% of them had no previous Army engagements.
- 47 Startups
- 15 Small Businesses
- 4 Research Institutions
- 1 Large Business
Watch the AFC Innovation Combine video
University Technology Development Directorate
Enhanced university partnerships: established Robotics Center of Excellence at the University of Texas and established a Hypersonics and Direct Energy Center of Excellence at Texas A&M University.
FORGING THE FUTURE.
DESIGNING AND DELIVERING CAPABILITIES
SOLDIER CENTERED DESIGN
AND SOLDIER TOUCH POINTS
- Soldier Centered Design is a key guiding principle in achieving persistent modernization
- Soldier Touch Points ensure soldier needs and preferences are put first
- Learn early, learn cheap
- Prototype improvements measured and achieved in days/weeks, not years
Demonstrated Extended Range Cannon Artillery fires at 70 kilometers (43.5 miles); Completed 3 prototype Precision Strike Missile flight tests.
Executed Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) Soldier Operational Exercise to support decisions on viability and investments for the future force.
NAVIGATION AND TIMING
Equipped more than 4,500 soldiers with first generation Mounted Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing System; Demonstrated Sensor to Shooter linkages from space over hundreds of miles.
Completed Interim Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) New Equipment Training; began Collective Training in support of the Operational Assessment.
FUTURE VERTICAL LIFT
Demonstrated SPIKE Non-Line of Sight missiles against nine targets with range increase of 75%; Air Launched Effects Extended Tactical Reconnaissance to 60 kilometers (37 miles) on an aerial mesh network.
Awarded six industry prototyping contracts to enhance networks and harden against cyber threats; Began delivery of four Brigade Combat Team sets of Capability Set 21 network equipment.
Developed Integrated Visual Augmentation System military form factor six years faster than traditional acquisition timelines; Delivered Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular to three Brigade Combat Teams.
Delivered One World Terrain to units at the Joint Readiness Training Center and units deployed to Afghanistan.
MODERNIZING TALENT MANAGEMENT
Software Factory (SWF): Established with its inaugural cohort of 25 Soldiers from across the Army with a 36 month immersive experience that includes training and concentrates on operational Agile DevSecOps methodologies, coding, and other tools required to rapidly build tailored, scalable software solutions. SWF will produce product teams of software developers, product managers, and user interface designers adept at solving problems for Army organizations with a focus on Soldier Centered Design while partnering closely with modern tech companies.
Direct Hire Authority (DHA): Enhancing AFC talent by targeting specialized skills and experience. For example, AFC recruited and hired Hannah Hunt as our Software Factory’s Chief Product and Innovation Officer. Hannah was named in Forbes’ “Top 30 Under 30”.
Science and Technology Reinvention Authorities (STRL): Achieved significant progress toward gaining additional STRL authorities to increase the agility of the workforce through more competitive hiring options and salary flexibility.
MODERNIZING THE WORKFORCE
AI Scholars: 20 military and 5 civilians split into two masters programs for Data Analysis and Data Engineering.
AI Technicians: 12 military non-commissioned officers and warrant officers completed Cloud Foundations (MS Azure) program and certification in general Cloud skills; on track to complete the advanced Cloud Architect Certification.
AI Leadership: 25 leaders from four-star commands and HQDA completed Data Driven Leadership course.
MEDICAL RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT: FIGHTING COVID-19
MEDICAL RESEARCH AND EXPERTISE SUPPORTING THE FORCE
- Infectious Diseases
- Chemical and Biological Warfare Prevention and Treatment
- Combat Medical Care
- Combat Trauma Treatment
- Traumatic Brain Injury Prevention and Treatment
- Burn Care and Treatment
- Military Behavioral Health
- Aviation Medicine and Medical Evacuation
- Soldier Physical Performance
- Health Information Technology
- Remote and Autonomous Medical Systems
Fighting COVID-19: Working with government, academia, and industry to accelerate vaccine candidates, therapeutics and diagnostic capabilities by supporting Operation Warp Speed and the DoD COVID-19 response.
Commanding General, MRDC
- Evaluating relevant antibodies for use in developing a rapid, portable test device to detect the virus during early stages of infection in austere, far-forward military environments. Rapidly developed testing models for vaccines and therapeutics.
- Leading an Expanded Access Investigational New Drug using Convalescent Plasma to treat DoD personnel, beneficiaries, and eligible civilians diagnosed with severe cases of COVID-19.
- Testing protective equipment to determine airworthiness for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) and other flight operations.
- Assisting other agencies with the development, manufacturing, testing, and regulatory submission of Personal Protective Equipment seeking and Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization.
- Partnering with multiple federal agencies in developing and refining a cutting-edge National Emergency Tele-Critical Care Network to extend resources.
- Partnering with government and industry to develop monoclonal antibodies as potential treatments to optimize the body’s natural immune response by preventing the virus from entering and replicating.
- Working with industry partners to develop and evaluate immunoassays to determine who is immune and whether their antibody responses are protective, who is not immune and may be at risk of infection, and who has sufficient antibody levels for convalescent plasma donation.
- Partnered with Gilead Sciences to provide Remdesivir to treat DoD personnel exposed to COVID-19. Clinical Trials for COVID-19 treatment are complete and Remdesivir is considered to be the standard of care for hospitalized patients infected with COVID-19.
- Partnered with industry using AI and Machine Learning to screen 40 million drug compounds and identify a few hundred promising drug candidates that are undergoing further testing.