An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | March 1, 2019

Defense Intelligence Agency director focuses on leadership, public service at 2019 INSA Achievement Awards

By Chris Van Dam Defense Intelligence Agency

"There may be a dark path ahead with the re-emergence of great-power competition and great risk than we have seen in our time, and so the role of the I-C has never been more important in preventing and, if necessary, helping win the next war."

You could hear a pin drop when the Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, Jr. uttered those words at the 2019 Intelligence and National Security Alliance Achievement Awards, Feb. 21, in Washington, D.C.

Every year, INSA presents six awards commemorating new and emerging leaders in the realms of industry, military, academia, government and homeland security, with a special category for mentors. And every year, DIA makes its presence known. This year was no different. 

Ashley kicked off the night with a keynote address, which focused on leadership, public service, and the importance of continued excellence in the face of growing tension. The director concluded his speech by thanking the awardees for their service and a call to action that referenced quotes from George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. 

"You are about to continue to render that service to the cause of liberty, to your country, which you can probably never do under any circumstance," said Ashley. "Thanks for stepping into the arena. Thanks for being part of the one percent that defends the nation. Thanks for your leadership."

The first leader and public servant honored was DIA officer Travis Thompson, who was presented the Richard J. Kerr Government Award by Kerr himself. In his remarks, Kerr complimented the analysis being done at DIA and the step taken by INSA to honor a great analyst.

"He is a person that will be reckoned with," Kerr said of Thompson.

The final nod to DIA was the Joan A. Dempsey Mentorship Award. This annual award is presented to individuals who go the extra mile as public servants and serve with individual excellence while also cultivating and encouraging others towards a higher standard, a fitting tribute to the trailblazing former DIA deputy director of intelligence. This year's award went to Lori Anne Parker of the Department of Homeland Security. 

In his remarks, Ashley shared what gets him fired up to come to work each day.

"I have had the opportunity for over three decades to be surrounded by the best this nation has to offer," said Ashley. "A group that is defined not by what they stand to gain, but what they are prepared to give, prepared to sacrifice. There is no more noble cause."


DIA is the nation’s premier all-source military intelligence organization. It provides the nation's most authoritative assessments of foreign military intentions and capabilities. The agency's four core competencies - human intelligence, all-source analysis, counterintelligence and technical intelligence -  enable military operations while also informing policy-makers at the defense and national levels. DIA's mission is unique and no other agency matches its military expertise across such a broad range of intelligence disciplines.