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DIA Change of Directorship Ceremony

Thank you, Colonel Wilburn. On behalf of Secretary Mattis… Director Coats, distinguished guests, General Stewart, General Ashley, ladies and gentlemen of the DIA community, foreign defense intelligence partners, thank you for joining me to honor LTG Stewart’s almost three-year tenure and welcome LTG Ashley from Army G-2 to Director of DIA and Command of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.


And a special welcome to General Stewart and General Ashley’s families who join us today: Phyllis, General Stewart’s wife, their children Vincent, Robert, Nicole, and Jennifer, and five grandchildren. Barb, General Ashley’s wife, their son Justin. Phyllis and Barb, we know these positions place a huge demand on your families, thank you for your commitment. Today is as much about you.


Secretary Mattis unfortunately could not be here as he was asked to testify before the House and the Senate, but he is here in spirit. Since day one in office, Secretary Mattis’ sole focus has been on warfighting and ensuring our military’s readiness to fight and win. In his words, ‘we are a Department of war, not a nation at war.’


In order to achieve maximum readiness, the Secretary’s relentless drumbeat has been to increase lethality; work by, with, and thru allies; and act as stewards of American taxpayers to save enormous sums of money for the Department.


General Stewart, if Secretary Mattis was here, I know he would recognize your alignment with his goals. He would thank you for your dedicated leadership, and as the first Marine at DIA’s helm, your role in operationalizing the voice of the warfighter.


General Stewart, I enjoyed our conversation last week. But I also did some research of my own, which shows you have accomplished a great deal, both at DIA and throughout your career. You have a track record of success realized through leadership and teamwork, bolstered by a healthy dose of grit, humility, and humor.


You are the type of leader that teams want to follow and go the extra mile for. In my conversation, the General bragged about the team members here at DIA, which are a quarter military and three-quarters civilian. He shared his confidence and enthusiasm for the community. The team is comprised of true patriots who show unfaltering dedication to the difficult DIA mission.


You and the DIA team have worked tirelessly to provide top-notch, actionable intelligence to the warfighter and key insight for the strategic leadership. You have established a culture focused on anticipating intelligence’s future challenges and have built up DIA’s stature as an institution dedicated to supporting the warfighter of today and tomorrow.


During your tenure, you have anticipated the needs of DoD in key ways. You solidified support to Combatant Commanders by strengthening integrated intelligence centers. You helped modernize operational capabilities to enhance lethality and stood up a new DIA element, the Defense Debriefing Service, to help “make the known knowable” to the right customers.


You helped drive innovation through technological advancement, digital transformation, and information sharing across the IC, and you enhanced relationships with Five Eyes and other foreign partners, some of whom join us today in-person and by broadcast. These relationships help to fill capacity gaps and build confidence in our shared missions.


DIA makes our military more lethal by providing decision-advantage to leadership, and we rely on DIA’s Defense Attachés to build bridges with partners abroad.


I am very familiar with the impressive quality of DIA’s work. Both of my daily intelligence briefers are from DIA. Contact with these briefers gives me a high level of appreciation for the extent of DIA’s work. Your expertise is both a mile wide and a mile deep.


To the DIA community – we are counting on you as we face myriad challenges from North Korea, Russia, Iran, and China to transnational threats like ISIS and al Qa’ida, and in the evolving environments of cyber and space.


Most will never know the extent of your efforts, but your integrity gives weight to the intelligence you produce and earns you respect in the eyes of those who receive your sound judgments.


General Stewart, your reward for success in leading this team is assignment to a new post just as demanding. I know you will approach your posting as CYBERCOM’s next Deputy Commander as an opportunity rather than a challenge. I look forward to personally working closely with you in that position.


General Ashley, you come from a family that knows what it means to serve. Your father was a soldier in Korea and earned a Bronze Star for his service as an airman in Vietnam. Your brother is career Air Force C-141 pilot, now retired, and your father-in-law was a master parachutist in the 82nd and served multiple tours in Vietnam.


By reputation, you are all about results, lethality, and integrity. You have proven these qualities during your time on multiple special operations tours, and as Army G-2, Commanding General of the Army Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca, and Director of Intelligence at both JSOC and CENTCOM.


What some might not know is that General Ashley is a celebrity thanks to his wife Barb, who was a contestant on the ‘Price is Right.’ She wore a button with his face on it out of pride for all he does. It would not surprise me if a button or two showed up here.


You were chosen for this position for your ability to reach across boundaries to build teams, distill problems, and drive action. We need you to continue this tradition at DIA. You will have no firmer advocates than myself and Secretary Mattis as you do. And with Barb’s experience, we should be able to get you all the attention you need.


Now I’d like to turn to General Stewart again and welcome him to the stage. Thank you for your exemplary leadership at DIA. For your selfless dedication, our nation is in your debt.


I’m honored to present you with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. Please accept it as a signal of the Department’s deep appreciation for all you have done to enhance DIA’s capabilities during your tenure.