MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. –
As one of the 75th Innovation Command's leading group of innovators, the Soldiers of Mountain View Group are no strangers to be first to invent, discover or accomplish something revolutionary. On Aug. 4, they achieved an historic milestone as they integrated Army tradition with cutting-edge technology during its first-ever change of command at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Mountain View, California.
Since April 2020, Lt. Col. Sung S. Hong has served as Mountain View Battalion’s first battalion commander. His two-year tenure concluded when he relinquished command to Lt. Col. Kimberly D. York.
"Mountain View [Battalion] is not a traditional Army unit," said Hong, who immigrated to the United States from South Korea as a teenager. "Rather than conducting exercises in the field or deploying overseas, our Soldiers actively seek out partnerships with leading innovators in the private sector to build out networks composed of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs."
Mountain View Group's mission focuses on innovation and technology scouting activities that support the Army modernization priorities and initiatives. Although the group comprises less than 30 Soldiers spread across five city teams from Denver to Silicon Valley, it has led more than 350 tech scouting discovery related events during fiscal year 2021.
"We have very talented Soldiers with diverse skillsets," said Hong, who enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1996 and earned his commission as a second lieutenant in 2002. "My goal as battalion commander was to keep these Soldiers engaged so they would always be hungry for more missions."
Hong's goal encountered several logistical and technological challenges, many of which stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic.
"[The pandemic] forced us to conduct battle assemblies on a virtual basis," said Hong, who has held several leadership positions, from tactical carrier team leader to civil affairs operations officer. "I developed ways of keeping Soldiers accountable and ensure we met mandatory requirements that every Army unit – including non-traditional ones like Mountain View Group – is expected to complete."
Hong and his team employed creative measures that offered practical solutions to the training requirements that were once considered an in-person activity.
"We conducted a virtual [Army Physical Fitness Test]," said Hong, who, in his civilian career, works as deputy chief of patient care services at Long Beach Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. "Soldiers used their smart phones to livestream themselves completing the push-up and sit-up events, then they used a running app with geo-tracking to record their two-mile run. It worked very well, as graders could watch the events live and receive real-time data through the running app."
Although Mountain View Group adapted and excelled in the virtual world, its Soldiers were eager to meet and train with one another in person.
"Now that many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, our Soldiers can come together under one roof to share best practices and conduct special events, such as this change of command ceremony," said Hong.
Hong's tenure officially concluded when York received Mountain Group's guidon. He will transfer to the 351st Civil Affairs Command, also headquartered in Mountain View.
Minutes after York received the guidon, she set her expectations in her opening remarks to the dozens of Soldiers and distinguished guests assembled in the auditorium.
" ... I look forward to being part of the all the incredibly impactful and meaningful initiatives and projects that directly enhance the strategic readiness of the Army," said York, a native of Los Angeles. "How do we accomplish this? By recruiting and retaining talent, emphasizing professional development and readiness ... and coordinating and implementing solutions."
York's background working for U.S. Space Command as a Soldier and civilian aligns with Mountain Group's mission and capabilities.
"I want to make sure that every project the battalion works on aligns with the [75th Innovation Command]’s vision and mission," said York. "By encouraging Soldiers to engage in meaningful projects, we can retain the Army Reserve's top talent while completing the commanding general's priorities."
Brig. Gen. Heather Reuter, deputy commanding general, 75th Innovation Command, was one of several distinguished guests who attended the change of command ceremony.
"Mountain View Group has a unique relationship with Army Futures Command and the Defense Innovation Unit," said Reuter. "Maintaining these relationships are crucial to engaging with universities and private sector partners on various projects from biomedical research to satellite communications."
As the livestream feed of the change of command ceremony came to an end, Reuter reflected on the way ahead for Mountain View Group and the 75th.
"It's no accident that Mountain View Group meets and trains in Silicon Valley," said Reuter. "The Group is poised to expand its presence and unlock [Silicon] Valley's potential in maintaining the Army’s technical and logistical superiority."