Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency: Who Is Michael Flynn?
Monday, April 23, 2012
The Pentagon’s top spy agency, like the rest of the intelligence community, was roundly criticized for key intelligence failures in the run-up to the war in Iraq, including finding that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and had close relations with al-Qaeda. It will soon be led by one of those critics, who recently published a trenchant critique of American intelligence in Afghanistan. Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, an intelligence insider over his thirty-year career in Army intelligence, was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Primarily responsible for providing data on foreign militaries, DIA is part of the Department of Defense.
Born circa 1959 in Middletown, Rhode Island, Michael Flynn is one of nine children of Helen and Charles Flynn, who was a small-town banker. Growing up, Michael Flynn worked at local restaurants and as a lifeguard, graduating Middletown High School in 1977. Flynn earned a B.S. in Management at the University of Rhode Island, where he participated in the ROTC program, in 1981. Flynn has since earned an MBA in Telecommunications from Golden Gate University, an M.A. in Military Arts and Sciences from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College.
Commissioned an Army second lieutenant in 1981, Flynn became an intelligence officer, platoon leader, and then instructor in his early days. Flynn’s assignments included multiple tours at Ft Bragg, North Carolina with the 82d Airborne Division, 18th Airborne Corps, and Joint Special Operations Command, where he served in the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 2005 invasion of Haiti. He also has served with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana; and the Army’s Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
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 180 in Afghanistan until July, 2002. He commanded the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade from June 2002 to June 2004, and was director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007, with service in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He served as the director of intelligence, United States Central Command from June 2007 to July 2008,and director of intelligence, Joint Staff from July 11, 2008 to June 14, 2009. Flynn assumed duties as the Chief, CJ2, International Security Assistance Force, with the additional appointment as the CJ2, US Forces–Afghanistan on June 15, 2009. As such, he was NATO’s director of military intelligence.
Flynn’s years in Iraq and Afghanistan were not without controversy. Most notably, the horrific examples of torture and abuse of prisoners that were carried out at Camp Nama in Baghdad took place while Flynn was in charge. For reasons of secrecy, it is difficult to sort out Flynn’s role in the illegal and inhumane activities. He is given credit for cleaning up the most extreme practices; what is unclear is whether he did so because they were morally wrong or merely inefficient.
Flynn was also closely aligned with Gen. Stanley McChrystal at the time that McChrystal’s arrogant and snarky attitude towards others was exposed in Rolling Stone, leading to his removal by President Obama as the leader of military operations in Afghanistan.
Since September 28, 2011, Flynn has been assistant director of national intelligence for partner engagement at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in Washington, D.C.
Flynn is married to his high school sweetheart, Lori Andrade; they have two sons. His brother, Charles A. Flynn, was promoted to Army Brigadier General in September 2011; Michael Flynn pinned the General’s Star on his brother. In honor of this, the State of Rhode Island and the Town of Middletown proclaimed it “Generals Flynn Day.”
Intelligence Aide Flynn re McChrystal: “Everyone Has a Dark Side” (by Jim White, Emptywheel)
Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan (by Michael T. Flynn et al, Center for a New American Security) (pdf)
Saluting A Family Legacy (by Jan Wenzel, Quadangles)
In Secret Unit's 'Black Room,' a Grim Portrait of U.S. Abuse (by Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall, New York Times)
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