APRA HARBOR, Guam (NNS) -- Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CCSG) 5 welcomed its new commander during a change of command ceremony aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) during a port visit to Guam, Oct. 5.
Rear Adm. John Alexander assumed command of CSG 5 from Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery during the ceremony, which was presided over by U.S. 7th Fleet Commander, Vice Adm. Robert Thomas.
"I'm proud of the superb performance of Battle Force 7th Fleet and Carrier Strike Group 5 over the past two years," said Montgomery. "We have significantly improved our ability to sustain our strike group assets, implementing a more deliberate cycle of maintaining, training and assessing our ships and aircraft. I also believe we have improved our already high level of combat readiness and initiated significant tactics development. This all serves as a strong sign of the nation's strategic rebalancing to the Pacific, assuring our allies and partners and deterring potential adversaries in the region. I am confident, as I leave you in the capable hands of Rear Adm. John Alexander that you will continue to set the standard for the Navy in the years to come."
Montgomery assumed command in February 2013. His position also included commander, Task Force 70 and Battle Force 7th Fleet. He successfully executed Annual Exercise '13, Talisman Saber '13, Valiant Shield '14, and Malabar '14. He also led the first significant U.S. Navy forces presence in support of Operation Damayan, the response to Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, where his leadership ensured the task force was effectively employed to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief directly supporting the efforts of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Thomas congratulated Montgomery during the ceremony and commended both his leadership and the successes of his units, and awarded him the Legion of Merit.
"Rear Adm. Montgomery has done a superb job as the commander of George Washington Carrier Strike Group honing the tip of the spear," said Thomas. "Under his command, the strike group has been where it mattered, when it mattered providing security, promoting stability, driving fleet tactical development and supporting our friends in need. Thanks to you and your team for all you've accomplished over the past 20 months. I've truly enjoyed the opportunity to serve alongside you again."
Montgomery will serve next as director for operations at U.S. Pacific Command.
Alexander takes command following a successful tour as assistant commander for career management, Naval Personnel Command. He previously commanded the "Black Ravens" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135, USS Juneau (LPD 10), at the time forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, and Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
"I am enormously proud to have the opportunity to lead the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed Carrier Strike Group," said Alexander. "Rear Adm. Montgomery's impressive leadership has left me with very big shoes to fill, and I look forward to leading the force as it continues to provide stability in the region as well as push the boundaries of excellence across all warfare areas."
CSG 5 is the Navy's only forward-deployed carrier strike group operating from Yokosuka, Japan and provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
For more news from Commander Task Force 70, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf70/.