Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, Jr. assumed directorship of the Defense Intelligence Agency from Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart in a ceremony presided over by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan October 3 at DIA Headquarters.
Shanahan spoke to DIA’s major successes during Stewart’s tenure, including enhancing relationships with foreign partners, focusing on innovation and increased support to combatant commands. He emphasized the importance of the work done daily by DIA officers
“You and the DIA team have worked tirelessly to provide top-notch defense intelligence to policy makers and the warfighter,” Shanahan said.
Before concluding his remarks, Shanahan presented Stewart with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for his accomplishments while at DIA.
Leaders from throughout the department of defense and the intelligence community, former DIA directors and foreign partners were on hand to welcome Ashley to DIA and thank Stewart as he moves on to his new assignment as deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command.
Speaking to Stewart’s achievements, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats highlighted the innovation and technology challenges faced by the intelligence community and the advancements made by DIA. Coats then presented Stewart with the Director of National Intelligence Gold Medallion award.
In his departing remarks, Stewart welcomed Ashley to the DIA family and thanked the DIA workforce for their committed dedication.
“To all of my intelligence officers, thank you for all you do…it is your accomplishments and more that instill me with great pride,” Stewart said. “It is clear to me the depths of your devotion to this country, your commitment to excellence, to your dedication to the oath…you have made DIA an unrelenting force for the security of the United States.”
Before officially handing over directorship to Ashley, Stewart had one last challenge to the workforce.
“Never forget why we serve: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Never forget that we serve the citizens of the United States,” Stewart said.
In his first address as the 21st DIA director, Ashley recognized the responsibility he now assumes.
“My task is to ensure that 320 million Americans can pursue their hopes and dreams…it is why I get up in the morning,” Ashley said.
A career intelligence officer, Ashley comes to DIA after serving as the deputy chief of staff of Army military intelligence. He has also served in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Gordon, Georgia, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Izmir, Turkey, and deployments to Operation Joint Force in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
“As the Army [director of intelligence] and in my career as a soldier, I have witnessed first-hand the great work this agency has done,” Ashley said. “I am honored for the opportunity to work together, building on DIA’s legacy.”
As part of his duties as DIA director, Ashley was also given command of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance from Stewart, with Shanahan presiding over the exchange.