Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper spoke Aug. 24, 2018, in Austin, Texas, during activation of the Army Futures Command. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brandy N. Mejia)

U.S. Army Futures Command Center, based at the University of Texas at Austin, is officially open.

In a ceremony last Friday, the U.S. Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper activated the center which will serve as the hub of innovation for the military.

The center plans to work with academia, industry, and entrepreneurs to create new products and solutions for soldiers and the Army. The U.S. Army officially announced it selected Austin as the site for the new command center in July following an extensive nationwide search for the best location.

Four-star general Gen. John M. Murray leads the center. He most recently served as deputy chief of staff at Army Headquarters in Washington.

In addition to the Secretary of the Army Esper and Gen Murray, several key officials attended the ceremony to dedicate the new command including Governor Greg Abbott, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Senator John Cornyn.

“There is a deep and enduring bond between the State of Texas the United States Military, and the opening of the Army Futures Command represents the next step in that partnership,” Governor Abbott said in a news statement. “With innovative technology companies, emerging startups, a rich pool of talent and world-class universities, Texas is the ideal choice to help launch the Army’s most significant reorganization effort in more than four decades. I want to thank Secretary Esper, Undersecretary McCarthy and all those involved in bringing the Army Futures Command headquarters to Austin.”

The Army Futures Command Center is based at UT and will have a staff of 500 including both active duty military and civilians.

“In a world with rapidly evolving threats distinct from others we’ve faced throughout our nation’s history, the Futures Command could not come at a more pivotal time,” Sen. Cornyn said in a news release. “The Army chose Austin because it wanted to be close to a hub of innovation… There are major academic institutions nearby like the University of Texas at Austin, St. Edwards, Texas State, and Texas A&M, with thousands of students graduating each year with degrees in STEM fields.”

“It’s also worth noting Austin has become a hub for start-up culture and is ground zero when it comes to youthful talent, technological ingenuity, and path-breaking ideas that are changing industries, institutions, and what our normal ways of doing things were in the past,” Cornyn said.

“But Austin, let’s not forget, is also a military city,” he said. “We know Camp Mabry is there, the headquarters of the Texas Army and Air National Guards and the Texas State Guard. Not far away is the ‘Great Place’ called Fort Hood, as well as Joint Base San Antonio to the south. Those military installations will now be joined by the Army Futures Command in Austin giving the bustling, live music capital of the world an entirely new brand and reason for attention.”

“If San Antonio, my hometown, is Military City, USA, you might call Austin Military Innovation City, USA,” Cornyn said.