Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn abruptly announced his retirement Wednesday as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, after what current and former officials said were clashes with his boss and other opponents inside the Pentagon spy service.
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (left) and David Shedd, deputy director. DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
Flynn’s deputy, David R. Shedd, is also retiring, according to a statement from the agency.
The agency collects and analyzes foreign intelligence to support the U.S. military. The better-known CIA is a civilian agency that reports to the president.
A senior Defense official said Flynn, who took over the agency in July 2012, clashed repeatedly with his superior, Michael Vickers, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for intelligence.
“He was trying to take DIA in a direction the rest of the department didn’t want to go,” the official said.
A former agency official and Flynn supporter said Flynn was undermined by an “old guard” at the agency who resisted changes he wanted to make. He sought to cut what he viewed as outdated intelligence programs in favor of allocating resources to newer threats, including cyber.
“Gen. Flynn wanted to take advantage of the budget pressures and the demand for a more adaptive agency to bring change and find efficiencies,” the former official said. “DIA is a bloated bureaucracy with overstaffed analytical elements still focusing on requirements that have been overtaken by applications in technology.”
No immediate successor was announced. One potential candidate mentioned in the Pentagon is Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence.
Flynn served as a top intelligence advisor to Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2010, he wrote a scathing report titled “Fixing Intel” arguing that military intelligence was largely irrelevant to the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan.
This article was originally published in Stripes and can be accessed here.