SAN DIEGO – Rear Adm. Daniel Fillion relieved Rear Adm. Frank Ponds as Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3, during a change of command ceremony aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) at Naval Base San Diego, June 17.
“It has been an honor and privilege to have served with the fine men and women of Expeditionary Strike Group 3,” said Ponds. “Your pride, professionalism, patriotism and passion are unrivaled. Along with our Marine Corps brethren, we, the Blue-Green Team, made significant strides in advancing the Secretary's, CNO's and Commandant's top priorities... to be forward, ready and engaged.”
During Pond’s tenure as Commander, ESG-3 served as the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) Commander for Exercise Ardent Sentry, a defense support of civil authorities’ joint exercise conducted by North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.
Ponds also served as ESG-3 commander during the maiden transit of USS America (LHA 6) which engaged in a partnership-building ten-week transit of Latin America known as “America visits the Americas.” During the transit, America Sailors met and worked with eight partner nation’s Sailors and Marines in subject matter expert exchanges, theater security cooperation events, bilateral exchanges, community relations, and sports events.
In addition, Ponds led ESG-3 participation in exercise Pacific Horizon, a scenario driven, crisis response exercise designed to improve 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and ESG-3 interoperability by conducting in-stream MPF offload, civil-military security assistance operations, and by infrastructure restoration support.
Ponds’ ESG-3 team also provided oversight for the training cycles of the Boxer, Makin Island and Essex Amphibious Ready Groups demonstrating their operational readiness and ensuring their on-time deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
Ponds said his most prized accomplishment as ESG-3 commander was starting a personal growth and professional development series to mentor female officers along the waterfront. The monthly round table panel discussion brought senior female military and civilian leaders together with female officers to provide guidance and mentorship.
Mentors for the program include senior flag officers, senior executive service civilians, commanding officers, and executive officers. The program included a range of topics such as work-life balance, career progression, leadership, and naval policies and was designed to address the unique needs of female officers serving in uniform.
“I want to also thank our family and friends for their patience and sacrifice in carrying on during our absence,” said Ponds. “You have always been there, and we will always be eternally grateful!”
Fillion most recently served as U.S. Southern Command’s director of Strategy, Policy, & Plans, J5. His afloat assignments include service aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as navigator and USS Wasp (LHD 1) as executive officer and commanding officer. He also served as commanding officer of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 51 and of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41.
ESG-3 consists of three amphibious squadrons, eight naval support elements and 12 amphibious warships comprised of more than 13,500 active duty and reserve Sailors and Marines. The mission of ESG-3 is to serve as the command element for Marine expeditionary brigade level expeditionary operations as commander of an amphibious task force or MPF. In addition, ESG-3 serves as Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet’s operational expert on amphibious warfare and command element for defense support of civil authorities’ operations and exercises.