The outspoken and brash Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — who was forced out of his post by the Obama administration in 2014 after pointing out the rising global jihadist threat — has already briefed the Republican presidential candidate on several occasions and is in close touch with high levels of Trump’s staff.
Flynn joins the ranks of GOP politicians being looked at for the high-profile pick, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. Trump spent the holiday weekend with two of the contenders.
“Spent time with Indiana Governor Mike Pence and family yesterday,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Very impressed, great people!” Later, Trump revealed he would be visiting Monday with Ernst, a rising Republican star.
Although Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, made a name for himself speaking out against his former boss, he is not treating his potential future boss the same way. “One of the things I expect Mr. Trump would look for in a vice president is discretion,” Flynn told The Post, coyly declining to comment on being vetted by Trump.
“All I would say is that I have been honored to serve my country for the past three decades and look forward to serving in other ways now that I am retired from the US Army,” he said. “I’ve been a soldier too long to refuse to entertain any request from a potential commander in chief.” Trump praised Flynn in a statement to The Post. “I have a lot of respect for Gen. Flynn, and his advice is important,” he said.
The general’s debut book, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies,” which hits shelves July 12, offers a grim but realistic view of the global jihadist threat.
April 30, 2014 - The top two officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency said Wednesday that they will retire from those positions in the coming months, part of a leadership shake-up at an agency that is under pressure to trim budgets and shift focus after more than a decade of war, current and former U.S. officials said.
The moves come at a time when the DIA is in the midst of major changes, including an effort by senior Pentagon officials to expand the agency’s network of spies overseas, improve collection on unfolding crises such as the one in Ukraine, and work more closely with the CIA.
The Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, said that their retirements “have been planned for some time” and that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “appreciates the service of these two dedicated and professional leaders.”
Kirby did not indicate when Flynn and Shedd would step down. Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, the Army’s top intelligence officer, is considered a leading candidate to replace Flynn, and she would be the first female DIA director if nominated and confirmed.
He drafted a blueprint that called for sending more employees overseas, being more responsive to regional U.S. military commanders, and turning analysts’ attention from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan to a broader array of emerging national security threats.
“I think that Flynn’s efforts to move the organization into a role supporting combatant commanders was spot on and it is where DIA should be heading,” said Fred Kagan, a military historian and unpaid adviser to the DIA. “I think that he was trying to introduce a lot of valuable innovation into the organization.”
Critics said that his management style could be chaotic and that the scope of his plans met resistance from both superiors and subordinates. At the same time, his tenure was marked by significant turbulence, including the fallout from the classified intelligence files leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, as well as other emerging crises.
“His vision in DIA was seen as disruptive,” said a former Pentagon official who worked closely with Flynn. At the DIA, Flynn sought to push DIA analysts and operators “up and out of their cubicles into the field to support war fighters or high-intensity operations,” the former official said. “I’m not sure DIA sees itself as that.”
Flynn clashed with other high-ranking officials, including Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers. Officials said Flynn had opposed Vickers’ efforts to make significant cuts to large intelligence centers established to support the U.S. military’s regional overseas commands. A former CIA operative, Vickers has sought to model the DIA’s training and overseas presence more closely on its civilian counterpart, according to current and former U.S. officials.
The plan has encountered significant opposition on Capitol Hill, particularly from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who have voiced concern over the cost of creating the Defense Clandestine Service, and questioned whether Pentagon spies would end up being used to fill intelligence gaps that are supposed to be handled by the CIA.
Flynn’s departure, which has been rumored for weeks, was set in motion earlier this year when Clapper informed him that the administration had concluded that a leadership change was necessary, officials said. Others described it as a mutual agreement that Flynn would step down.
Flynn was a key player in U.S. military efforts to dismantle insurgent networks in Iraq and Afghanistan, an approach that relied heavily on combining U.S. Special Operations forces with intelligence operatives and analysts. With McChrystal, Flynn helped to compress a cycle of carrying out raids and then exploiting the intelligence from those operations to find other targets.
In 2010, Flynn rankled many of his counterparts in the intelligence community when he published an article that was sharply critical of the information that spy agencies were assembling in Afghanistan. The effort was so focused on tracking insurgents that U.S. military and diplomatic leaders got little to help them understand the political, economic and cultural issues driving the insurgency.