US military intelligence critic to lead spy agency

A US general who once blasted the work of military spies in Afghanistan as "only marginally relevant" has been nominated to take over the Pentagon's intelligence agency, officials said.

The decision to name Lieutenant General Michael Flynn suggests a possible shake-up of the sprawling Defense Intelligence Agency as the general has earned a reputation for pushing for dramatic change in his work with special forces.

Flynn was a scathing public critic of military intelligence in Afghanistan, where he served as a top intelligence officer in 2010, saying it failed to provide decision makers with a clear picture of conditions on the ground.

He chose to publish his critique through a Washington think tank, the Center for a New American Security, instead of sticking to customary channels within the Pentagon bureaucracy.

"Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the US intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy," his report said.

"Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which US and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade," it said.

Flynn is credited with playing an influential role during his tenure at Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the secretive headquarters that oversees elite commandos like the team that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

At JSOC, Flynn reportedly persuaded special forces to place a higher priority on scooping up intelligence while carrying out targeted attacks on militants.

His nomination reflects the ascendancy of special forces in policy making both within and outside the American military, a trend reinforced by the successful operation against Bin Laden.

Flynn, whose nomination must be approved by the Senate, currently serves as the assistant director of national intelligence for partner engagement at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.


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