Small Wars Journal

The Disruptive Career of Michael Flynn, Trump's National-Security Adviser

The Disruptive Career of Michael Flynn, Trump's National-Security Adviser by Dana Priest, The New Yorker

… “Look at this!” Flynn said, holding up his phone so that I could see the screen. At his request, his communications staff would send him the daily dispatches published by tribal media outlets in Pakistan’s troublesome northwest region. These articles chronicled skirmishes, feuds, and revenge killings—it was unfiltered information that any decent Western news stringer would know how to read, but that, seven years into the war in Afghanistan, the American military was still far from absorbing. Flynn got it, though. He was drawn to the little flecks of truth scattered on the ground.

A lot of reporters and other civilians found Mike, as everyone called him, refreshing. A plucky Irish Catholic kid from Rhode Island, he wasn’t impressed by rank. He told his junior officers to challenge him in briefings. “You’d hear them say, ‘Boss, that’s nuts,’ ” one former colleague said. The colleague asked not to be named, as did others I talked to for this story, either because they wanted to maintain a positive relationship with Flynn or because they did not want to criticize the incoming Administration. “When he would walk in a room, they would look up like little dogs. They just loved him.”

Flynn broke rules he thought were stupid. He once told me about a period he spent assigned to a C.I.A. station in Iraq, when he would sometimes sneak out of the compound without the “insane” required approval from C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia. He had technicians secretly install an Internet connection in his Pentagon office, even though it was forbidden. There was also the time he gave classified information to NATO allies without approval, an incident which prompted an investigation, and a warning from superiors. During his stint as Mullen’s intelligence chief, Flynn would often write “This is bullshit!” in the margins of classified papers he was obliged to pass on to his boss, someone who saw these papers told me.

The greatest accomplishment of Flynn’s military career was revolutionizing the way that the clandestine arm of the military, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), undertook the killing and capture of suspected terrorists and insurgents in war zones. Stanley McChrystal, Flynn’s mentor, had tapped him for the job. They were both part of the self-described “Irish mafia” of officers at the Fort Bragg Army base, in North Carolina. In Afghanistan and Iraq, Flynn ordered JSOC commandos to collect and catalogue data from interrogations, captured electronic equipment, pocket trash—anything that could yield useful information. By analyzing these disparate scraps of intelligence, they were able to discover that Al Qaeda was not a hierarchical group after all but a dynamic network of cells and relationships. As I learned while doing research for my book “Top Secret America,” Flynn and McChrystal dramatically increased the pace of JSOC attacks on enemy hideouts by devising a system in which commandos on missions transferred promising data—cell-phone numbers, meeting locations—to analysts, who could then quickly point them to additional targets to hit. Multiple raids a night became common…

Read on.

Comments

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 12:15pm

Trump's nat'l security advisor tells Tokyo that Trump values Japan, campaign remarks were rhetoric to win election:
http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Trump-a…

"His actual policies after taking office would be different from what he said to galvanize his support base, Flynn predicted"

BUT WAIT did not Trump let his Arab business partners also know during the campaign that his so called rabid anti Muslim rants were just rhetoric?????

SO was Flynn the back channel for the Arab business partners as well???

So was this the biggest con ever of US voters????

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 2:46am

1. Flynn attempted to change the DIA a strategic intel collection and analysis organization into a tactical field intel unit....not even an organization...that failed totally

2. he had/still has a poor management style

3. he has an ego that is dangerous as he creates and still is recreating his "altered state of reality" around his firing

4. he has failed to fully explain his trips to Moscow and who paid for them and how much was paid...and this as a former intel officer

5. he has actually through these trips violated a number of security regulations and laws

6. he has not fully explained his lobby work and why he did not register as a "foreign agent" when he knew he was working for the Turkish government

7. his numerous Muslim comments lean towards the idea of a "clash of civilizations"...question is ..is that his own biases or propaganda to get attention and market himself to the alt right.

This seems like a fair article. The GFlynn under McCrystal helped transform the fight against AQI, but he wasn't effective in the DIA for reasons I suspect were linked to both his leadership style and an engrained bureaucracy at DIA resistent to change. What concerns me most is his behavior since he left the service. A NSA who has his own facts and embraces conspiracy theories can be incredibly dangerous for a President that has limited foreign policy experience. At that level I would prefer someone who takes long and sober view when it comes to advancing our interests. His subordinates at DIA stated his priorities changed daily, which is essential at the tactical level, but ineffective at the strategic level. I think he is capable of being a good NSA if he can step back and look at the bigger picture over time, and if he stops generating Flynn facts. He shouldn't make flippant comments in this critical role.