Raleigh now in top 5 as Army narrows the list for its new command center

U.S. Army leaders number the Triangle among the five cities still left in contention to host a new Army command that will oversee the development of new weapons.

Raleigh made the cut along with Boston and three other communities that as of Monday morning were still publicly unidentified. The Army had been considering 15 cities and wants to make a decision on the site this summer.

Bloomberg News first reported the decision on Monday.

"This decision comes as no surprise," said Sen. Thom Tillis, a member of the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee. "Raleigh would be a perfect host of the Futures Command and the perfect home for the soldiers and their families, [U.S. Department of Defense] civilians, academics, scientists, engineers and innovators who are involved with the effort."

Bloomberg reported that Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told Raleigh officials that representatives from the service will visit the city this week, to look over its blend of academia and industry and "better understand the socio-economic dynamics" of the area. It also said Boston's getting a similar visit this week.

Raleigh and Boston were previously competing with Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle for the chance to host the new headquarters.

Army leaders are setting up Futures Command to run the development process for several major types of new weapons or systems, starting with long-range missiles and artillery. The list also includes ground-combat vehicles to replace the 1970s-vintage M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a "vertical lift" helicopter or aircraft, new computer networks, and air and missile defense systems.

The Army expects the new headquarters to house about 500 civilian workers and uniformed staff who will work under a four-star general. Participants in the recruiting process also believe defense contractors will set up offices close by Futures Command.

State and local officials have been working to land the project since the fall. Both Tillis and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr are involved, as is Gov. Roy Cooper, his cabinet and the UNC system. Locally, a nonprofit called the N.C. Military Foundation is coordinating the response to the Army's questions.

The Triangle has been considered a strong contender for the new command because of its blend of strong universities, healthy private sector and proximity to military bases like Fort Bragg.

This is a developing story. Come back here for updates.

Ray Gronberg: 919-419-6648, @rcgronberg

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