(born December 1958)
Michael Thomas Flynn is a retired United States Army lieutenant general who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, and chair of the Military Intelligence Board from July 24, 2012, to August 2, 2014. Prior to that, he served as Assistant Director of National Intelligence. He consistently pushed for greater information and intelligence sharing and was a leading figure in coalition and special operations intelligence operations. Flynn co-authored a report in January 2010 through the Center for a New American Security entitled Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan,which criticized the intelligence community for lacking an understanding of the human-socio context of the battlefield in Afghanistan.
Flynn’s military career was primarily operational, with numerous combat arms, conventional and special operations senior intelligence assignments. He also served as the senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command, where he was credited with creating innovative techniques for interrogation operations and operations-intelligence fusion, leading to major breakthroughs in counterterrorism operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere against Al-Qaeda and its associated movements. Flynn is a published author, with articles appearing in Small Wars Journal, Military Review, Joint Forces Quarterly, the Center for a New American Security, and other military and intelligence publications.
Early life and education
Flynn was born in Middletown, Rhode Island, the son of Helen Frances (Andrews), who worked in real estate, and Charles Francis Flynn, a banker.
He graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science degree in management science in 1981 and was a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. He also earned a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications from Golden Gate University, a Master of Military Art and Science from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
Flynn is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course, Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and Naval War College.
1981 to 2001
Flynn’s military assignments after joining the Army in 1981 included multiple tours at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, and Joint Special Operations Command, where he deployed for Invasion of Grenada in Grenada and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. He also served with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
2001 to 2012
Flynn served as the assistant chief of staff, G2, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from June 2001 and the director of intelligence, Joint Task Force 180in Afghanistan until July 2002. He commanded the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade from June 2002 to June 2004.
Flynn was the director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007, with service in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). He served as the director of intelligence, United States Central Command from June 2007 to July 2008, as the director of intelligence, Joint Staff from July 2008 to June 2009, then the director of intelligence, International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from June 2009 to October 2010.
In September 2011, Flynn was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. His duties included public, private, and international outreach and engagement. Flynn’s primary influence within the U.S. intelligence community was with regard to operational units across all the services, especially in the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance arenas, as well as information technology and organizational design.
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
On April 17, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Flynn took command of the DIA in July 2012.
In October 2012, Flynn announced plans to release his paper “VISION2020: Accelerating Change Through Integration”, a broad look at how the Defense Intelligence Agency must transform to meet the national security challenges for the 21st Century.
On April 30, 2014, Flynn announced his retirement effective later in 2014, about a year earlier than he had been scheduled to leave his position. He was reportedly effectively forced out of the DIA after clashing with superiors over his “management style” and vision for the agency.
He retired as of August 7, 2014.
Association with Russia
RT gala dinner in Moscow, General Flynn is seated next to President Putin. Jill Stein seats across.
In retirement, Flynn was described by the Washington Post as “not hostile to Russia,” while Michael Crowley of Vox described Flynn as having “an odd affection for Russia and its authoritarian government.”
After retiring from service with the U.S. government, Flynn began appearing semi-regularly as an analyst on RT, a Russian owned English-language news outlet.
2015, Flynn attended a gala dinner in Moscow in honor of RT, where he was seated next to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.Before attending the event, Flynn gave a paid talk on world affairs to a group; Flynn defended the Russian payment in an interview with Michael Isikoff.
Journalist Michael Crowley of Politico reported that “At a moment of semi-hostility between the U.S. and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin’s table startled” U.S. officials.
2016 U.S. Presidential election
Having already been consulted regarding national security by candidates Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump, Flynn was asked in February 2016 to serve as an adviser to the Trump campaign.
In July 2016, it was reported he was being considered as Trump’s running mate; Flynn later confirmed that he had submitted vetting documents to the campaign and was willing to accept the Republican vice-presidential nomination if chosen.
As one of the keynote speakers during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention Flynn gave what the Los Angeles Times described as a “fiery” speech, in which he stated: “We are tired of Obama’s empty speeches and his misguided rhetoric. This, this has caused the world to have no respect for America’s word, nor does it fear our might.”
Flynn went on to critically address political correctness and joined the crowd in a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”. During the chants he told those in the audience, “Get fired up! This is about our country.”
During the speech, Flynn also joined chants of “Lock her up!”, referring to the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and stated that she should quit the presidential race.
He repeated in subsequent interviews that she should be “locked up”.
While campaigning for Trump, Flynn also referred to Clinton as the “enemy camp”.
Flynn was once opposed to waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques that have now been banned; however, according to an August 2016 Washington Post article, he said at one point, in the context of Trump’s apparent openness to reinstating such techniques, that “he would be reluctant to take options off the table.”
In May 2016, Flynn was asked by an Al Jazeera reporter if he would support Trump’s stated plan to kill the families of suspected terrorists.
In response, Flynn stated, “I would have to see the circumstances of that situation”.
Flynn is a registered Democrat, having grown up in a “very strong Democratic family”. However, he was a keynote speaker during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, and he is a surrogate and top national security adviser for president-elect Donald Trump. During the campaign, Flynn was critical of the Democratic party.
During a July 10, 2016 interview on ABC News’ This Week, when asked by host Martha Raddatz about the issue of abortion, Flynn stated, “women have to be able to choose.”
The next day, Flynn said on Fox News that he is a “pro-life Democrat”.
Flynn’s non-military awards and decorations include the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal and National Security Agency Distinguished Service Medal.
His military awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster), Bronze Star Medal (with three oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), and several service and campaign medals. Flynn also earned the Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, and Joint Staff Identification Badge.
Flynn is also the recipient of the Congressionally approved Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the 2012 Association of Special Operations Professionals Man of the Year award.
Flynn has an honorary doctorate from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC.
The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, with Michael Ledeen, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2016.
Book review: ‘The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies’
“The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies,” written by Lt. General Michael T. Flynn and Michael Ledeen, provides a great perspective on the fight against the growing radical Islamic terrorist threat facing the U.S. and the world. The author states that the title “Field of Fight” comes from the ancient Greek poet Homer and his epic, “The Iliad,” which is about a battle involving both men and their gods.
Lt. General Michael T. Flynn has 33+ years of Army and DIA intelligence experience. He has worked alongside General Stanley and General Petraeus, as well as other top warfighting leaders. He held the position of the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), but was asked to resign shortly before he was set to retire. He stood his ground in Washington D.C. against the Obama administration and refused to continue with the approved censored script on terrorism.
He felt the need to bring the “uncomfortable truth” to the surface, and as a result, was dismissed. What is the “uncomfortable truth” that the Obama administration doesn’t want you to hear? Radical Islamic terrorism is more powerful and has greater reach into the Western world than ever before, and we could lose the war if we don’t take action. Lt. General Michael T. Flynn states he wrote this book for two reasons: to show you the war being waged against us and to lay out a winning strategy.
Overall, the book is broken down into four major parts:
- The making of an intel officer
- The enemy alliance
- How to win
Making of an intel officer
Lt. General Flynn’s lengthy experience in the intelligence field over multiple campaigns gives you a perspective on national security, foreign policy, and warfighting that most authors could not provide. The book starts off with his experience as a young electronic warfare platoon leader in Grenada and Haiti. These early deployments and opportunities gave him insight on how important it is to integrate intelligence with operations. These experiences set up his foundation for becoming a good intelligence officer. He also discusses having to transition from planning big tank battles to battling an insurgency. Flynn draws similarities from his earlier campaigns in communist countries to modern radical Islamists. For example, there are similarities between indoctrinating the populace and the broader motivations for ultimate victory. Flynn states that there is no surprise in the alliances between communist states and Islamic radical groups.
Once Army intelligence made the long shift from fighting Cold War opponents to fighting unconventional threats, Flynn started focusing on pattern analysis and the deficiencies in human intelligence and interrogation. The higher he rose in rank, the more he was exposed to “politicalization of intelligence,” which means you don’t deliver bad news to your leaders. He claims that both the Bush and Obama administrations did not want to hear bad news. Specifically, they chose to ignore the Iranian involvement in the Iraq War. By failing to recognize the threats in Iraq, President Obama made the decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, causing the rise in Islamic State and Iranian influence. Intelligence officers often get the job of delivering bad news, especially if they know that an operation will not be successful. One of the hardest things for most intel officers to resist is conforming to the game of keeping your superiors happy by telling them what they want to hear. He asserts that his ability to withstand that temptation is what made him a “maverick” in the intelligence field.
Flynn makes the point that when fighting an insurgency or when involved in guerrilla warfare, there are not true victors. The more successful one is at killing and capturing the enemy, the worse it gets, because this only draws more fighters for the enemy. Armies don’t determine the outcome of the conflict, the people on the ground do. Whoever “the people on the ground” or the residents decide to side with will win the war. So the fight no longer involves fighting the terrorists and insurgents, but instead becomes who can best win over the populace.
Notice two things: their decision is not primarily a political, let alone a moral, preference; and the decision is a self fulfilling prophecy. That’s because they choose their side once they decide who the winners-to-be are. Once they throw their support in that direction, that side gains an unbeatable advantage because “support” means winners-to-be have the critical intelligence and the indispensable manpower they need to win.” (page 39)
Additionally, the author states that General McCrystal was the principle driver in shifting the war in Iraq when he changed the way intelligence was shared. Human intelligence and interrogations grew in importance as the war in Iraq continued. Getting actionable intelligence from interrogations to the decision-makers through advanced communication technology shaped operations in Iraq. Intelligence was now driving operations instead of it getting held back by bureaucratic bottlenecks, eliminating the normal chain of command. This shift in operations put decision-making at the actionable levels and finally, results were being seen. The author states, “We were trying to save our operators, destroy our enemies, and win the damn war.”
The enemy alliance
Lt. General Flynn calls into question our foreign policy in the Middle East, specifically with Iran. For decades, America has ignored the Iranian threat, and the Obama Administration has even entered into a nuclear deal with them. Iran has funded both sides of the war: Iranian Shi’ite militias as well as the Sunni groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. As the old saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” which is a simplified way of indicating the underlying cause of the enemy alliance that is rarely acknowledged by the media or the Obama administration. Instead, they are more focused on maintaining a level of political correctness to distract from the truth. Radicalized Islamic groups and governments that support Islamic terrorism will continue to attack us unless we take action. Flynn states that radical Islam is “a tribal cult and must be crushed,” otherwise they will continue to recruit and identify our weaknesses to exploit them.
How to win
There are ways to win against radical Islamic groups and their allies, but if the country or its leadership are not willing to do what is necessary to win the war, there will never be an end to the fighting.
The primary requirement for winning an war is the willingness, determination, and resolve to win and to do the necessary things required for victory. At the moment we have a president who said–incredibly, in my opinion–on November 16, 2015: “What I’m not interested in doing in posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or America winning.”
Lt. General Flynn discusses the recommendations he would make to the leaders we elect who want to know the truth, win, and who are able to truly lead. After all, we are in the current position with the Islamic State because President Obama made a politically motivated decision to leave Iraq prematurely.
As a former intelligence officer, I highly recommend this book. The author provides a clear picture of the current threats America is now facing and will continue to face if we do not seek the truth from our leadership. If political correctness outweighs the importance of eliminating the real threat of radical Islam and the enemy alliance, the fighting will only continue indefinitely. Radicalized Muslims do not need hugs and love like AG Lynch recently suggested. Americans deserve to know the truth about legitimate threats and not have it censored for our own protection. We can no longer continue the charade of false success in the war against radical Islam and its allies.
The book, “How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies,” written by Lt. General Michael T. Flynn and Michael Ledeen, can be ordered on Amazon.