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DIA celebrates retirement of Lt. Gen. Ashley, welcomes 22nd director Lt. Gen. Berrier

By Chasen Thoennes, DIA Public Affairs

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Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier assumed directorship of the Defense Intelligence Agency from Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. in a ceremony presided over by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Oct. 1, at DIA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe began the ceremony, speaking to an intimate crowd of family members and select officials due to COVID-19 restrictions. He highlighted a number of Ashley’s accomplishments during his time as director and the legacy he leaves behind.

“I’ve only known (Lt.) Gen. Ashley for about five months, but I’ve had hundreds of conversations about the work and leadership of DIA, and I can tell what people think from those conversations,” Ratcliffe said. “Everyone, without exception, believes (Lt.) Gen. Ashley has led this Agency with heart, honesty and wisdom.”

Ratcliffe then presented Ashley with the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal for dedication to the Intelligence Community throughout his career.

Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Joseph Kernan spoke to the importance of DIA’s work and the positive influence of Ashley’s leadership.

 “(Ashley) always ensured unbiased analytical rigor … and sticking to your guns in that regard is incredibly difficult,” Kernan said.

Following Kernan’s remarks, Milley officiated the change of directorship from Ashley to Berrier.

Speaking for the first time as the 22nd director in DIA history, Berrier noted this was the fourth time he has followed Ashley in an assignment.

“Bob, thanks for your thoughtful leadership and steady hand at the helm here at DIA,” Berrier said. “I have seen your impact time and time again throughout the years and know that when you leave an organization, it is all the better for having had you. Your legacy in the Army and the Intelligence Community is rock solid, thank you. Good luck to you and (Mrs. Barbara Ashley) in retirement.”

Prior to DIA, Berrier served as the deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Army Intelligence (G2), and comes to the Agency with decades of intelligence experience having led intelligence staffs (J2) at many levels. In his remarks, Berrier acknowledged the positive effect DIA officers have had throughout his career.

“To every member of DIA: while I’ve never been assigned here, I have been surrounded and supported by you for many years and know I am entering an Agency with a proud history of innovating to get the job done and pursuing excellence in defense of our Nation,” said Berrier.

In addition to thanking Ashley for his service, Milley remarked on the significant impact of Ashley’s career, stating, “Our nation, our entire nation, owes a debt of gratitude to the Ashley family.”

Milley also acknowledged the importance of the work done by DIA officers.

“Each of you are the sentinels on the wall of freedom,” he said. “You are so fundamental to the survival of our nation.”

Milley then presented Ashley with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and his certificate of retirement.

In his final address to the DIA workforce, Ashley thanked his family, DIA officers and others who made his success possible and reflected on experiences that led to this moment.

“How do you summarize 36 and a half years? It’s my family, it’s my kids, it’s why I get up in the morning,” Ashley said. “It’s why I come in here, it’s why I’ve done every job I’ve ever had to the best of my ability.”

In closing, Ashley reminded the senior leaders in attendance that he will not have to set his alarm and go to work tomorrow, but that he remains committed to his sense of service.

“It has been my honor to serve and I’m a soldier for life.”

A recording of the ceremony is available online.