WASHINGTON — U.S. lawmakers from all over the country are lobbying the Army to locate its new Futures Command near them, eyeing a potential economic boon.
The Army aims to rearrange its modernization priorities under the command, which leaders have described as a small, hoodies-and-jeans alternative to a stuffy bureau on a military base. The idea is to take advantage of a city’s proximity to academia and business.
The latest: Army Secretary Mark Esper received two pitch letters, one from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and another from Maryland’s congressional delegation, led by Rep. Anthony Brown, a former lieutenant governor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
“In light of Maryland’s ranking as a top region for innovation and technology development, the talent technology-focused workforce and top-tier academic institutions in our state,” the latter letter reads, “we greatly appreciate your consideration of Maryland as a future siting of Army Futures Command.”
Maryland is home to more than 9,000 aerospace and defense contractors as well as 150,000 military and civilian employees; it also hosts Army Research, Test, Development and Engineering Command, along with Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade and their cyberspace and innovation-focused tenant commands.
Army officials have said they intend for the command to be based in a city and have a four-star commander, both to be named when the command reaches initial operational capability this summer. They plan to whittle down the list of cities under consideration from 30 to 10 and then four finalists.
Among the cities said to be in the mix: Seattle; San Francisco; Boston; Atlanta; Huntsville, Alabama; and Wichita, Kansas.
Last week, lawmakers representing Illinois, home to the Army’s Rock Island Arsenal, reportedly hosted the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin. And Rep. Cheri Bustos hosted a tour for Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Winston-Salem Journal he expected Raleigh to be a finalist for the command. The city is a 90-minute drive from Fort Bragg and close to several major universities and Research Triangle Park, where the Army has a research lab.
Jen Judson, in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.