CentCom gets new intelligence director
Two bits of news about the important but recently questioned intelligence operation at U.S. Central Command: One is an official announcement; the other an online report based on unnamed sources.
First, the Pentagon has named a new head of intelligence at CentCom: Army Maj. Gen. Mark R. Quantock. The appointment was announced on March 25, a few days before Army Gen. Joseph Votel moved from U.S. Special Operations Command, also headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, to take over the top leadership post at CentCom.
Quantock comes to MacDill from assignments as deputy chief of staff for intelligence for NATO's Resolute Support Mission and director of intelligence for the U.S. Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan. Those efforts focused on providing training and support to Afghan security forces, working with U.S. allies and continuing counter-terrorism operations against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Quantock also has served as military deputy of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as well as in intelligence and other jobs in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Germany and with U.S. Army's cyber intelligence operations.
Quantock takes over CentCom's intelligence operation as the Pentagon's inspector general continues an investigation into complaints from as many as 50 of the command's analysts who said their supervisors had manipulated intelligence to hide failures in the training of Iraqi troops and in the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State terror group.
Speaking at MacDill last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he couldn't comment on the inspector general's work because the investigation was still open.
But, asked to address the issue an hour after he became CentCom's new commander, Votel referred to a point he made his change-of-command ceremony.
"It's extraordinarily important," Votel said in response to a reporter's question about how he would ensure that he gets good intelligence and that CentCom analysts have confidence in how the organization treats their work. "The most important resource that CentCom has is our people. We rely on their experience. We rely on their expertise. We rely on their ability to help us think through and understand difficult problems. We've got to continue to nurture and encourage an environment that allows people within the organization to come forward and put out the information. ... I look forward to really supporting that kind of approach."
Now for the second bit of news, which is attributed to unnamed sources who spoke on conditions of anonymity. The online politics-and-culture web site The Daily Beast is reporting on possible personnel moves at CentCom — some that it says are related to the analysts' complaints and some that might not be. For that report, click here.