YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz.-- U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground held a change of command ceremony on July 8 with Col. Ben Patrick McFall III assuming command from Col. Ross C. Poppenberger.
The modest ceremony was held virtually as a COVID-19 mitigation measure, with hundreds watching a live stream on YPG’s Facebook page as fewer than 50 looked on in person. Maj. Gen. Joel K. Tyler, Commanding General of the Army Test and Evaluation Command, officiated remotely from Aberdeen, Md.
McFall assumes command as the proving ground’s position at the forefront of Army modernization efforts have garnered national attention. The proving ground actively supports six of the Army Futures Command's Cross Functional Teams (CFTs) building the Army's future force, which seeks to retain overmatch with near-peer adversaries in a high intensity conflict while maintaining the competency in waging irregular warfare that has been achieved since the 9/11 attacks. Later this year the proving ground will serve as venue for a large demonstration connected with Project Convergence, the campaign of learning designed to aggressively advance and integrate the Army's contribution to the developing concept of Joint All-Domain Command and Control.
“I can’t speak to how excited and honored I am to have this opportunity,” said McFall. “The reputation of YPG is outstanding and widely known: I am awestruck by the capabilities of our workforce and our top-notch facilities.”
Outgoing commander Poppenberger received widespread praise for his emphasis on positioning the proving ground to support Army modernization priorities far into the future and support of community outreach efforts, which included such unprecedented events as the YPG 75th Anniversary and YPG 2020 open houses, the latter of which drew 22,000 people onto the installation. He credited these outreach efforts with results like the state’s allocation of $28 million to begin a long-needed expansion of Highway 95, YPG’s major traffic artery, to four lanes.
“Modernization has always been YPG’s wheelhouse,” said Poppenberger. “Historically, all of the personnel in acquisition circles knew the amazing work and value that YPG delivers to the force, but now senior leaders are coming here in droves to see what we do for modernization.”
In remarks at the ceremony, McFall pledged to continue the post’s vital work in support of Army modernization efforts, and thanked YPG personnel for their longstanding rigor in testing virtually every piece of equipment in the ground combat arsenal. He mentioned having personal as well as professional appreciation for the workforce’s efforts.
“As a mechanized infantry company commander in Iraq in 2004, I tested your equipment on two-way live fire ranges. Never once did I doubt that it would do what it was supposed to do. I am here today because of the work you did yesterday.”
Commissioned in 1997, McFall spent the early years of his career as an infantryman, deploying to Bosnia as an infantry platoon leader. As a Capt. in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he commanded a mechanized infantry company. He joined the Army Acquisition Corps in 2006, in which he served as assistant product manager for PM Armored Security Vehicle and in the Pentagon, among other assignments.
McFall is excited about the next three years, and looks forward to his tenure in command.