ACC/Army Futures Command Software Factory Ribbon Cutting
- Good morning, and welcome to the United States Army Software Factory ribbon cutting ceremony. My name is Major Vito Errico, and I'm one of the two Co-Directors of the Army Software Factory. Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, please stand for the arrival of the official party, and please remain standing for the playing of the National Anthem. Our host for today's ceremony is General John M. Murray, the Commanding General of Army Futures Command. Accompanying our host is our keynote speaker General Mark A. Milley,
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (National Anthem plays) ♪Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light ♪ ♪what so proudly we hailed, at the twilight's last gleaming. ♪ ♪Whose broad stripes and bright stars, ♪ ♪through the perilous fight, o'er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪were so gallantly streaming, and the rockets' red glare, ♪ ♪the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night ♪ ♪that our flag was still there. ♪ ♪Oh say, does that star spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪o'er the land of the free ♪ ♪and the home of the brave. ♪ (music ends) - Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated.
At this time, we would like to extend a very warm welcome to some of our distinguished guests in attendance here today. Mrs. Hollyanne Milley, spouse of our guest speaker, General Mark Milley. Dr. Richard Rhodes, Chancellor of the Austin Community College.
Mr. Abdul Subhani, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for the Texas Capitol Region. Command Sergeant Major Michael Crosby, Command Sergeant Major of Army Futures Command.
Mr. Keith Graf, the Executive Director of the Texas Military Prepared Commission in the Office of the Governor. Mr. Ajay Patel, the General Manager and Senior Vice President at VMware. Members of the National Security Innovation Council, our industry partners in attendance with us today and the entire Army Futures Command and Software Factory families.
Today we are celebrating the opening of our space in the Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus. You might ask, what is the Software Factory? Well simply, the Software Factory is by soldiers for soldiers. It's the first of its kind, immersive experience, putting soldiers at the center of Army modernization. It's an initiative to find, select, and empower tech talent, hidden inside the ranks to work on real Army problems right now. It's a new lever for harnessing modern tech practices, and it's a way for soldiers to collaborate closely with academia and industry, especially the tech industry across the country and here in the local Austin area.
We are so welcome and happy to have you guys here today with us. Having said that, it is my honor at this time to bring forward Dr. Richard Rhodes, the Chancellor of the Austin Community College.
(audience applauds) - Thank you, Major Ericco. You know, it's my honor and pleasure to welcome you to the Army Futures Command Software Factory at Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus. This is an exciting day for us, and it wouldn't happen without the support and the guidance of our Board of Trustees, and I just want to take a moment of privilege to introduce them. Our, the Chair of our Board, Dr. Nan McRaven sends her wishes and her congratulations, but she was called out of town, but we have four other Board members with us today, and that's the Vice Chair of our Board of Trustees, Dr. Nora de Hoyos Comstock, and we have the Secretary of our Board of Trustees, Nicole Eversmann, and we have a Board member with us, Past Chair of our Board, Gigi Edwards Bryant, and, our newest Board member, Dana Walker.
(audience applauds) You know what's happening here is a first of its kind, and ACC is really proud to be a part of this historical moment. At ACC, we believe that innovation plus collaboration truly leads to transformation, and that's what we see happening here today. The Software Factory is our unique partnership that just shows how that can happen. And it's...at ACC, students will have the opportunity to work with the soldiers, and with our contractors that'll be working with us. This is a natural fit and it's an honor for ACC to be a part of this.
You know, some people say that partnerships are very fragile animals that, you know, you have to kind of depend on each other, but you have no control over each other. However, when a partnership is built on trust, mutual understanding, and taking a look at purposeful missions that align with each other, that is a partnership that will succeed, and that's exactly what we have right here, with, between ACC and the Army Futures Command, and I'm so proud to be a part of that. I'm very proud of the ACC Riverbat family that has come together to help make this happen and to support that. But, you know, it doesn't happen without the other side of that partnership.
And so under the amazing leadership of General Murray, and Majors Errico and Zuniga, this wouldn't happen. And so this is a tremendous partnership, and I want to say thank you for your leadership General Murray. It has been incredible to work with you.
So with that, I conclude and say, congratulations and thank you for bringing ACC along with you. (audience applauds) - So thank you, Dr. Rhodes. And I would just start off by echoing your comments.
That is, part...every partnership is two sides, and you've been an amazing organization, and to the Board members, I mean this has just been an incredible experience. Not easy, but an incredible experience. And then I'll also echo your comments on the two young Majors sitting over here, which there's a lot of people who are now part of this effort to include the cohort that's probably the most important people in the room sitting on the flanks. And I hope everybody in audience takes a chance to talk to some of these young soldiers, because they are just incredible young men and women. But these two really took it from the start, and this is not normally what the Army does in terms of this type of experience.
So everything that we have done, those two have done, really over the last year and a half, has been completely swimming upstream against bureaucracy, and they have just done an incredible job getting this off the ground and really rolling. And I do think, like a lot of things, that proof will be in the output. And I think what the output of this experience is going to be is some incredibly, what are already incredibly talented young men and women that will make a significant difference, not only for the Army, but for the security of our nation as we move forward and we begin to imagine what that future can look like.
And they will bring incredible skills and talent to the United States Army. And that's really what the ground floor of this is, and you're not sitting in a special event area. This is the Software Factory.
So normally there's tables and chairs and whiteboards and a lot of work going on that have just been moved for this ceremony. So I'd just like to echo Vito's comments and welcome everybody, to include some former AFC alumni I see the crowd. And then just take the opportunity to introduce our guest speaker, who probably doesn't need much of an introduction. In echo, welcome to Ms. Hollyanne, as well. So General Milley was actually at the ground floor and we just talked a little bit about this, of AFC.
And the idea for Army Futures Command, really originated, based upon being... General Milley being chewed out by late Senator McCain. And Senator McCain basically told him that the Army does not understand modernization. You wasted tens of billions of dollars and you better figure something out quick. And so that goes all the way back to the end of 2015, maybe early 2016, where General Milley gathered some folks around and we kind of brainstormed about a different approach to modernization, and it took about two years to get it in place.
It took the right civilian leadership, getting the right civilian leadership in place before we could do it. But it looks a lot like General Milley talked about way back at the end of 2015, in terms of what. And I do believe it's been an interesting two and a half years of getting this organization stood up.
The Army Software Factory is the latest add to the Army Futures Command family, but we are beginning to see the impact of that idea way back then is having on the Army, and really across all the services. So I'm gonna be short, but without further ado, General Milley's got, obviously a long and distinguished career. All the way, he commanded at all levels from Company through what we call our Forces Command to Four-Star Level, five different operational deployments in five different types of theaters: Just Cause, Joint Forge, obviously Operation Iraqi Freedom where we first met, when we served together as Brigade Commanders; Operation Enduring Freedom; and there's one more there that I'm missing, but just... previous job as Chief of Staff of the Army. Just phenomenal leadership for Army, recognized by the President of the United States, and now is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and so phenomenal leadership across our joint force. And General Milley and Hollyanne, for the sacrifices along the way and your service and leadership, I'll just conclude by saying thank you and introduce you as our guest speaker.
So ladies and gentlemen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (audience applauds) - Thanks, Mike, and I appreciate that. I appreciate everyone being here. Dr. Rhodes, thank you for your leadership and the Board of Directors.
Murray and I go back a ways, you know, current Chief of Staff of the Army, General McConville, and I and Mike were all Brigade Commanders together in the First Cavalry Division, 16 years ago in Baghdad. It was a very violent time and a lot of blood and sacrifice. One day I was in a pretty serious firefight and we were in trouble.
Things weren't going so well. So I called for some help. (clears throat twice) And Mike led a Mech Infantry Combined Armor, Mech Infantry Brigade and McConville was the Aviation Brigade Commander.
And, I was in need of help, so I called on both of their help, and McConville rolled in with his Apache helicopters, and he was flying one of them actually, fired and supported me. And, then Mike showed up with some Bradleys and tanks, and pulled me out of that. And both Murray and McConville said they've regretted it ever since! So- (audience laughs quietly) so there you go! (laughs brightly) But, I'm actually here to officially announce, just for payback... So Murray thought he was going to retire here, pretty shortly, right? So I'm here to officially announce to the entire community of Austin, Texas, Army Futures Command, and really to the world and to Jane, who's up in Ohio right now, that you are being involuntarily extended and the President of United States has not accepted your retirement, and you will remain as the Army Futures Command Commander for two or three more years. So it'd be good. (audience applauds) - Sorry.
That's what you get for saving my life! (laughs merrily) - And that's not true by the way. I just made that up while I was sitting here. So, I don't want to put words in people's mouths. Hey, so bottom line, is thanks. Thanks for what all of you are doing. Mike, thanks for your leadership.
He will be here for a little bit. He's gonna retire in the not too distant future, but we wouldn't have Army Futures Command without your leadership, without your effort. And, and when it really, without the effort of hundreds of others, maybe even thousands throughout the Army and the Joint Forces community. So thanks for what you're doing. And what's happening today, Dr. Rhodes used the word, I think historic? It is historic.
This is the first time that we have a soldier-led factory, a Software Factory in the military. Now, some of the services, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, have little software factories, little incubators, but none that have been organized, led, and driven primarily by troops, by soldiers. And in this case, it's, what is it? E3, I think, E-3 through O-3, led by two Majors, and this is phenomenal. If you think back to this building, here, this building that we're in right now, it goes back to 1916. This is one of the first high schools in Austin, Texas.
And you go back to 1916, and you ask yourself: "Well, what was happening in 1916?" Well, you know, you had General Pershing, who was a Brigadier General at the time, and he was riding on a horse with a couple of regiments of troops, and amongst those regiments, in his force was, you know, Captain Patton, or Lieutenant Patton, he might've been at the time. And there were some others, that later names became famous, and they were on horses and they were chasing Pancho Villa in Northern Mexico, along with some border skirmishes. And within, I don't know, 10, 12 months or so of him doing that, the United States, in April, I think it was of 1917, finds itself getting engaged in World War I. So he goes from horse cavalry--a few months later General Pershing is now a Four-Star General-- goes from One-Star to Four-Star, in a very short period of time, and leads the American Expeditionary Force across the ocean and goes into World War I. And in World War I, we all know the story of trench warfare and how catastrophic it was.
How it ended five different empires, slaughtered millions upon millions of people, and it was a horrific nightmare for the world. And it spawned the conditions for World War II, and set the conditions in the interwar years. So from 1914, the beginning of World War I, through 1945, more or less, in that 30 year period about 150 million people gave their lives in the slaughterhouse of war, great power wars. And in 1914, when General Pershing is leading American forces across the Atlantic into World War I, people like me, at the time, Three, Four-Star Generals, the leaders of the time, we couldn't grasp the changes that were occurring around them in civil society. You had tremendous industrialization happening at the end of the 1800's, early 1900's. You had the advent of the telegraph and the telephone.
You had horseless carriages, called automobiles, that were coming online and you had a wide variety of other things. In the military, you had the introduction, in small numbers, of the airplane, had the introduction of mechanization with the first tank battle at the Battle of Cambrai in World War I. So you get some previews of the future, but people like me couldn't see it.
And what did we do? We stayed shoulder to shoulder, we marched across fields, and we got mowed down by machine guns, thinking that horse cavalry was good enough for machine guns and proximity fuze artillery. And tens of thousands, millions of people gave their lives because the people of the day couldn't see the future. They couldn't envision the future.
And then, between World War I and World War II, these technologies came on and became much more widely dispersed. And they became available to all the countries of the world: Japan and Russia and China and Germany and France and Britain, the United States, et cetera. And all of these countries chose to develop these technologies in various ways, not only for commercial use, but for military use. And some of those countries were not good.
One of them, Nazi Germany, took these technologies and put them together in a way of warfare that led to the overrunning of Europe in less than 18 months, and led to the greatest catastrophic use of arms in human history: World War II. And both my mother and father fought in World War II. My mother took care of the wounded coming back from the Pacific, out in Seattle at a hospital, as an enlisted Navy. And my father was a Navy Corpsman with the Fourth Marine Division, making the assault landings at Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima, as a young enlisted guy. And on Iwo Jima, 7,000 Marines are killed, 34,000 or so wounded, in only 19 or 20 days. The horror of those wars is unbelievable.
And how does that relate then to the Software Factory? It has everything to do with modernization, seeing the future, and being able to prevent a great power war. Being able to deter wars by having exceptional young people who can see the future, develop the capabilities of the Joint Force, in this particular case, the Army component of the Joint Force, and to lead us into the future. Because frankly, as great as Mike Murray is, as great as Jim McConville is, as great as Mark Milley is, all of that, we are just a couple of years too old to be able to do coding, to be able to see the impact of cyber and space. We just can't envision it. We can't make the bridge. There are some out there who perhaps can, but none of us really can, and we need to be humble enough to pass the baton on to a younger group.
And that is you. So this command that he is leading, Army Futures Command, this was...He was correct, it was a conversation between myself and Senator McCain, and he said: "We got to do better."
And I went back to the Pentagon and I grabbed Mike Murray and two or three other people. We literally went to a whiteboard not unlike what you see here, and we started designing something that is now known as Futures Command. And it took about two and a half years to work through all the bureaucratic hurdles at the Pentagon and so on and so forth, but we got it off the ground.
Now we didn't know exactly what road it would go on. We didn't know exactly where it would lead, but we did know that if we empowered young people, if we, kind of, took off the constraints of bureaucracy and all of that, that we could unleash the human power and we could create something better for the Army and for the Joint Force in order to have a military that's capable of deterring any adversary. And that is what your ultimate purpose here is all about.
It's to make us, the Army, to make us, the Joint Force, the Navy, Air Force, Marines, a better military. And we don't want to have a better military just because. We're a very expensive capability for the United States of America, and we cost billions of dollars a year. $715,000,000,000 was announced just the other day for next year's budget. That's a lot of money for the taxpayer to spend on us, (clears throat) but it's not spent for nothing.
Why do we do that? Why does this factory here at this community college in Austin, why are you only five minutes from Google and Facebook? Why did we put you here to integrate and innovate for the future? It's to prevent great power war. It's to maintain great power peace. It's to maintain cutting edge and overmatch against any potential adversary.
And why do we want to do that? Why? Because our country is embedded with a document called the U.S. Constitution, for which Murray and me, the two Majors, all of the troops that are involved in this, that we are deeply committed to. And we are here to ensure that that Constitution, the Constitution of the United States of America, is passed on to the next generation like it was passed on to me from my parents and their grandparents, and so on and so forth. That is our solemn duty: to pass that document... the idea that is in that document, off to the next generation. And that idea is an extraordinarily powerful idea, and it's an idea that's about a thousand years old.
And we were the first country to operationalize that idea, and we operationalized it in an imperfect way. But we took that idea, and every single day, as it says in the Constitution, we strive to make a more perfect union. We are not a perfect union, but we are striving always to make a more perfect union. And it's powerful idea. It's so powerful, this idea that's in that Constitution, that the Nazis were deadly afraid of it.
The communists were afraid of it. The Soviet Union collapsed because of it. We defeated Imperial Japan because of it. The fascists in Italy were definitely afraid of it. The terrorists in Al Qaeda and ISIS, they hate it.
They hate the idea. It's not that they hate you. They hate this idea. And what is that idea? You look around this room and you can see the idea. You can see it, right here in this room. Just look to your left and look to your right.
And the idea says that every single one of you, it doesn't matter if you're male or female, gay, straight, transgender, doesn't matter what you are. Doesn't matter if you're white or Black, Asian, Indian, doesn't matter the color of your skin. Doesn't matter if you're Catholic or you're Protestant, Muslim, Jew, or you choose not to believe at all. None of that matters. It doesn't matter if you're tall or short, rich or poor, famous or common. The idea that's in that Constitution, the idea that my parents fought for, the idea that Futures Command is dedicated to, the idea that you are leading this factory into the future about, says that every single one of us is created equal in the eyes of the law.
In America, you are equal and you're gonna rise or fall based on your knowledge, your skills and your attributes. And you're gonna be judged by the content of your character, not the color of your skin. And that's the why. That's why this country exists. That's who we are as a people.
That's why I wear the uniform. That's what you're dedicated to. And that's why this Software Factory is being started.
It's to preserve that idea. It's to deter our enemies so that idea will be passed from one generation to another. So to the two of you, you got a big mission. You're in your first cohort. There's 24 students that are here today.
I'm very, very proud of each and every one of you. You are the future. Pretty soon, Mike and I and others will be retiring and passing the baton to you. So show us the way, show us the light and take us on the road to the future. I appreciate it. Thank you very much, and God bless America.
(audience applauds) - Thank you, General Milley for those inspiring remarks. We really appreciate that. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Major Jason Zuniga. I'm the fellow Co-Director of the Army Software Factory, and it's my pleasure to inform you that it is now time for us to cut the ceremonial ribbon. So we'll officially open the Army Software Factory.
I'd like to ask General Milley, General Murray, Dr. Rhodes, Sergeant Major Crosby, and Mr. Subhani, to join Vito and myself up front.
- [General Milley] This is your last chance to correct your mistake from 15 years ago! (audience laughs) (scissors snip) Don't take a picture of that, please! (audience laughs) That would be really bad! (group speaks indistinctly) - We gotta go really wide. On three: Uno, dos, tres! (scissors snip loudly) (audience applauds) - And so, although our ceremony is coming to a close, I can speak for the entire Software Factory team when I say that we see this as just the beginning. It's the beginning of new partnerships. It's the beginning of new business practices so that we can continue to meet the changing needs of our soldiers across the entire Army.
It's the beginning of how we look and evaluate skills and talents of our most precious resources, our people. And so this is just the beginning of that journey, and we hope that this will be something special that can usher in a new era for our Army, and we ask that you continue to share this journey with us, and you can watch us on social media, and our website, @ArmyFuturesCommand.com/Software Factory. At this time, I would just be remiss if I didn't say how incredibly thankful we are for everyone that made the trip out in person, for those that are watching the live stream that couldn't be here in person, we were just truly humbled by your presence and your encouragement that we've had throughout this starting of the Software Factory.
And I think, we just offer a special thanks, Vito and I, to both of our wives, Gabby and Vanessa, and to the entire Software Factory family, and we appreciate you so very much. At this time, I'd ask everyone to please stand for the playing of The Army Song. (band begins playing The Army Song) ♪March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free. ♪
♪Count the brave, count the true, ♪ ♪ who have fought to victory. ♪ ♪ We're the Army and proud of our name! ♪ ♪ We're the Army and proudly proclaim: ♪ ♪ first to fight for the right, ♪ ♪ and to build the Nation's might, ♪ ♪ and the Army goes rolling along. ♪ ♪ Proud of all we have done, ♪ ♪ fighting till the battle's won, ♪ ♪ and the Army goes rolling along. ♪ ♪ Then it's hi! hi! hey! ♪ ♪ The Army's on its way. ♪
♪ Count off the cadence loud and strong; ♪ ♪ For where'er we go, ♪ ♪ you will always know ♪ ♪ that the Army goes rolling along. ♪ Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes today's ceremony. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules and sharing in this memorable occasion.
We would ask that if you would like to, please take an opportunity for light refreshments at the rear of the room and join and meet some of our Software Factory team here today. Have a wonderful rest of your day. Thank you. (audience applauds)