WASHINGTON: A Marine three-star general will take control of the Defense Intelligence Agency later this month, marking the first time an African American or a Marine has held that post, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Vincent Stewart will be promoted to lieutenant general and take over the DIA on Jan. 23. His promotion was confirmed last month by the US. Senate.

Most recently Stewart was serving as the head of Marine Forces Cyber Command, and he has also been the Corps’ intelligence director.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said Stewart’s “temperament, professional background, leadership skills and integrity make him eminently suited to be the next DIA director.”

Stewart’s appointment comes more than eight months after the previous leader was nudged aside amid ongoing conflict within the agency. Then-DIA chief Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and his civilian deputy director announced last April that they would retire. Officials at the time said their departures were hastened in part because of friction associated with efforts Flynn was making to shake up the agency.

The traditional role of the DIA has been to provide military intelligence, including insight into the make-up and capabilities of foreign military forces, to US combat units and defence planners and policymakers. It also provides “strategic warning,” or the forewarning of imminent hostilities, insurgencies, attacks on the United States or its forces or allies, hostile reactions to US reconnaissance activities and terrorist attacks.

Flynn, a career intelligence officer, had led the DIA since July 2012 and he retired early last August. Typically, the director’s post rotates among the Army, Navy and Air Force about every three or four years. But it had never gone to a member of the Marine Corps, which is technically part of the Department of the Navy.