Jamaican-Born Maj. Gen. Vincent Stewart Becomes US’s 1st Black Head of Defense Intelligence Agency

Maj. Gen. Vincent Stewart was tabbed as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, making him the first Black and the first Marine to hold the position of the military’s top spy chief.

Stewart, a three-star general who was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, until the eighth grade, replaced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who retired amid conflict in April. Lt. Gen. Mary Legere, deputy chief of staff of intelligence for the Army, was once expected to take over for Flynn, but her potential nomination ran into opposition from Congress.

Stewart’s nomination to lieutenant general was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Dec. 10, setting in motion his promotion. He will end his service as the head of the Marine Forces Cyber Command and begin his new job on Jan. 23, taking over for interim director David Shedd, a former CIA official.

“This is a position I know well, and Vincent is exceptionally qualified to serve in this important Intelligence Community and Department of Defense post,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement. “Vincent’s temperament, professional background, leadership skills and integrity make him eminently suited to be the next DIA director.”

DIA provides military intelligence to combat units, defense planners and policy makers.

According to his official military biography, Stewart entered the Marine Corps in 1981. His previous positions include senior intelligence planner for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and director of Intelligence for Marine Corps Headquarters.

Army Col. Steven Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, said of Stewart in a Department of Defense release: “A distinguished intelligence professional and dedicated warfighter, Major General Stewart brings a wealth of talent and leadership to the Defense Intelligence Agency and the nation’s intelligence community across the agencies and organizations.”

Stewart credited his upbringing in Jamaica for his success. “I left (Kingston) about 1971, when I was just starting second year at Kingston College,” he said to The Gleaner in a 2010 interview. “The education I got here put me in a good position when I went to America. I was well ahead of my classmates when they placed me in eighth grade.”

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