Jamaican-born heads Military Intelligence Agency

Lieut. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart.
Photo courtesy of DIA Public Affairs

The title and name Lieut. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart may not resound with military familiarity the way U.S. Army General Colin Powell did when the latter decided policy as national security advisor and chairman of joint chief of staff.

Perhaps a reason is the fact Lieut. Stewart wears the uniform of the USMC – whose motto is “Semper Fidelis” (always faithful).

Another could be the fact war in Iraq and Afghanistan has moved from the front pages where it lingered during the President George W. Bush administration when history declared the soldier, the first Black to hone the key position.

However, like the four-star general, under the leadership of the Commander-in-chief Barack Obama, the marine has distinguished himself through military service and on Jan. 23 became the first Black and the first Marine to hold the position of director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

And while that accomplishment is major, the fact the military’s top spy chief was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica makes him another Caribbean superstar.

Full disclosure reveals that Stewart lived on the island until he reached eighth grade.

“I left (Kingston) about 1971, when I was just starting second year at Kingston College.”

That was about the same time Powell was making his second tour as a soldier in Vietnam. Stewart credits his upbringing in Jamaica for his success.

“The education I got there put me in a good position when I came to America.”

Although on arrival here he was assigned to the eight grade educators believed comparable to the Jamaican school system, Vincent reflected: “I was well ahead of my classmates.”

A decade later, Stewart joined the U.S. Marine Corps.

He received his baccalaureate degree from Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL, where he majored in History (1981).

He also earned master’s degrees in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, Newport, RI (1995) and in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, Washington, D.C. (2002).

His spiral past promotion boards landed him positions as senior intelligence planner for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and director of Intelligence for Marine Corps Headquarters.

While serving as commander at Marine Forces Cyber Command in the rank of major general he was nominated for a third star and was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Dec. 10, 2014.

Described by Department of Defense spokesman, Army Col. Steven Warren as “a distinguished intelligence professional and dedicated war fighter,” Major Stewart will lead the charge to “provide military intelligence to combat units, defense planners and policy makers.”

“He brings a wealth of talent and leadership to the Defense Intelligence Agency and the nation’s intelligence community across the agencies and organizations,” Warren added.

“Vincent’s temperament, professional background, leadership skills and integrity make him eminently suited to be the DIA director,” James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence said in a statement.

Clapper’s endorsement added that, “This is a position I know well, and Vincent is exceptionally qualified to serve in this important Intelligence Community and Department of Defense post.”

More from Around NYC