The wait is almost over to find out whether Raleigh will be home to the U.S. Army’s newest headquarters.
Army leaders have called a news briefing for Friday at 10 a.m. to announce which of five cities has won the Army Futures Command.
The headquarters, to be headed by a four-star general, will oversee the development of new weapon systems for the Army, including new missiles, cannons, tanks and helicopters.
Its creation is “the most significant Army reorganization effort since 1973, and brings unity of command and effort to Army modernization, ensuring greater accountability, transparency and responsible stewardship of the nation’s resources,” service officials said in announcing plans for the Pentagon briefing.
Army leaders launched the site search in the winter and from the start said they wanted to put the headquarters in a city with a good mix of academia and industry.
Service Secretary Mark Esper has said the Army wants scientists, engineers and theorists at its fingertips, and believes “you’re not going to get that at a traditional troop post.”
Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday he believes North Carolina has “put forward a great proposal.”
“I think we have put our best foot forward,” Cooper told reporters at the Energizing Rural North Carolina conference in Pinehurst. “I think this is the place for the Army Futures Command. We’ve got the universities in a cluster right in the Triangle. We are the most military friendly state in the country. But we just have to wait and see. There were 30 cities in the competition for this. We were down to the final five, so we will see what happens.”
An Army “ground team” scouted each of the finalists — Raleigh, Austin, Boston, Minneapolis and Philadelphia — for office space before Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Futures Command task force chief Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley visited them for a last look.
A coalition of local, state, university and federal officials headed by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Cooper spearheaded North Carolina’s recruiting effort, with a private group called the N.C. Military Foundation coordinating much of the work.
“Everybody has worked together seamlessly,” Cooper said, noting that it’s been “a bipartisan effort.”
North Carolina’s advocates have argued that the Triangle has just the mix the Army wants.
The area has three top-tier research universities in Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University, a tech sector that includes major companies like Red Hat, SAS and IBM and a manufacturing sector that includes such players as GE Aviation. The region’s also close to Fort Bragg, the headquarters for the Army’s primary training, airborne and special-forces commands.
Army Futures Command formally started work on July 1 and is using temporary offices in Crystal City, Virginia, near the Pentagon. The Army is looking to lease office space in the new headquarters city and after renovations wants the space ready for occupancy next summer. It is expected to house 500 uniformed and civilian personnel.
Local officials believe that wherever the Army puts the new headquarters, major defense contractors will want to open offices close by.
Raleigh officials weren’t willing on Thursday to comment when asked their opinion of the city’s chances of landing the headquarters.
“We’ll just stay mum until we hear the announcement,” said John Boyette, spokesman for Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.
They announcement will be streamed at www.defense.gov/live.
Zachery Eanes contributed to this article.