The Fires Chapter and the four-state Fourth Region of the United States Army (AUSA) have big plans for the Lawton-Fort Sill community this coming Wednesday.

The representatives it’s bringing to town that day will have information that could provide valuable economic opportunities for small- to medium-sized businesses and academic institutions in this area.

Nate Slate, Fourth Region AUSA vice president for veterans affairs, says the AUSA Fires Chapter will host a couple of Army Futures Command events and its annual banquet in recognition of care providers.

“What’s unique this year will be a local celebration of Army Futures Command. Army Futures Command will have representatives coming up from Austin, Texas, and they’re going to conduct a recruitment event for Oklahoma,” Slate said.

That will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Worley Seminar Center on the campus of Great Plains Technology Center, 4500 W. Lee Blvd.

“The purpose is for them to visit with Oklahoma small businesses, maybe up to medium-sized businesses, and educational institutions that might be interested in partnering with Army Futures Command for innovation,” Slate said.

“This is really a unique combination of opportunities that we’re bringing together as one surrounding, overarching aspect of Army Futures Command,” Fires Chapter President James Taylor said.

Army Futures Command is a four-state command that oversees, among other things, the Army’s eight Cross-Functional Teams (CFTs) charged with developing top priorities for modernization and speeding up the acquisition process to get new systems into the hands of soldiers more quickly.

Two of the eight are headquartered on Fort Sill, the Long-Range Precision Fires and the Integrated Air and Missile Defense CFTs. Both will make short presentations as part of the 2:30 p.m. event.

“Long-Range Precision Fires will talk about what they’re focused on and the kind of help that they could use from Oklahoma partners. And Integrated Air and Missile Defense will talk about their areas of focus and what they can use in terms of support from businesses in Oklahoma going forward,” Slate said.

An Army Futures Command representative will then supply the big picture of what it does overall and discuss the programs that help small businesses get money for innovation, he said.

“All of this is very germane to what we’re doing with the FISTA, the Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator. Army Futures Command very much wants to see Lawton and Fort Sill grow research and development in science and technology outside the gates.

“Their coming here to do this recruitment event establishes Lawton-Fort Sill as the hub here in Oklahoma for Army Futures Command for innovation. Obviously everyone believes that this visit and the support of Army Futures Command will help the FISTA get up and running and will help bring our research and development in science and technology outside our gates.

“So we’re excited about that,” Slate said.

From 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the AUSA Fires Chapter will host a reception celebrating Army Futures Command. This will be in the room adjacent to the ballroom inside the Apache Convention Center, 2315 E. Gore Blvd.

As part of the reception a video provided by Gov. Kevin Stitt will be shown, and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell will speak. Lawton Mayor Stan Booker and newly appointed Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) Mike Brown will also have comments. Taylor will serve as master of ceremonies, and there will be some special presentations.

At 6:30 p.m. the crowd will move to the ballroom for the annual AUSA Care Providers Recognition Banquet.

“Unique to this one, there’ll be a special recognition and a special tribute to our former CASA, (the late) Bill Burgess,” Slate said.

Burgess, who died Feb. 8, 2019, was a former co-publisher of The Lawton Constitution.

“We’re honoring the life and contributions of Bill Burgess with members of his family there to receive the recognition. And then the local care providers” will be recognized, Taylor said.

In closing, Slate had another point to make: Fourth Region AUSA includes Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. This year and next, the primary focus of Fourth Region AUSA is to support Army Futures Command, because its headquarters is in Austin, Texas, and two of its CFTs are at Fort Sill.

“Fourth Region helped set up this state recruitment. I asked for assistance, and they were great, to help with that,” Slate said.

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