Exchange of Army Futures Command flag symbolizes new commander

The exchange of the Future's Command flag Tuesday symbolized the official change in command, a transition from General James Richardson to General James Rainey.

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth spoke at the ceremony and praised the selection of Rainey.

"Jim is the right leader to build on the excellent work of General Mike Murray and General Richardson and take Futures Command into the next phase of both delivering both the Army of 2030 and looking ahead to what we need in 2040," said Wormuth.

General Rainey was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Army. His resume includes leading the 3rd Infantry Division and being a top Commander in Afghanistan.

"He has got the right background, he knows form tactics to strategy to technology, and he has got it all. We've got a great Assistant Secretary for Acquisitions, Doug Bush, back at the Pentagon, they've worked together, and it’s going to work well," said Wormuth.

Getting to this ceremony took some extra time after the original general in command retired in December. An early replacement candidate for the job, General Walter Piatt, was a reason for the delay. He got caught up in the fall-out from the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot.

As a result there was concern about the confirmation process in the Senate, but now with that possible fight avoided Wormuth had this to say.

"It could be challenging sometimes to get nominations through but Walt Piatt is a fantastic Officer, and he is a great Director of Army Staff," said Wormuth.

During her speech, Secretary Wormuth, made it clear she wants Futures Command to focus on future fights on the battlefield.

"In FY23 we are going to be looking to get 24 new systems, either in prototype or fielded out in the hands of soldiers," said Wormuth.

The innovation mission includes the use of Artificial Intelligence. That technology made headlines Friday when Elon Musk rolled out his "Optimus" humanoid. Musk admits his idea is still a work in progress and the secretary Tuesday didn't seem ready to order up a division of robot soldiers.

"The human element is always going to matter, its humans who do the fighting, but we are seeing things like our robotic combat vehicles for example, and we are seeing more autonomy in AI in our systems, but I think at the end of the day it’s always going to be soldiers on the ground," said Wormuth.

When futures command launched here in Austin a little more than four years ago, there were only dozen people assigned to it. Now the Command has a global force of nearly 30,000.