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Michael T. Flynn

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For other people named Michael Flynn, see Michael Flynn (disambiguation).
Michael T. Flynn
Michael T Flynn.jpg
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
In office
July 24, 2012 – August 7, 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Ronald Burgess
Succeeded by David Shedd (Acting)
Personal details
Born 1958 (age 57–58)[1]
Middletown, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political party Democratic (registered)
Other political
Alma mater University of Rhode Island, Kingston
Golden Gate University
United States Army Command and General Staff College
Naval War College
Website Official website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1981–2014
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Unit Defense Intelligence Agency
 • Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
Battles/wars Operation Urgent Fury
Operation Uphold Democracy
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Awards Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal (2 oak leaf clusters)
Legion of Merit (oak leaf cluster)
Bronze Star Medal (3 oak leaf clusters)
Meritorious Service Medal (5 oak leaf clusters)
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal (5 oak leaf clusters)

Michael Thomas Flynn[1] (born December 1958)[1] is a retired United States Army lieutenant general[2][3] who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, and chair of the Military Intelligence Board from July 24, 2012, to August 2, 2014.[4] Prior to that, he served as Assistant Director of National Intelligence. He consistently pushed for greater information and intelligence sharing and was a leading figure in coalition and special operations intelligence operations. Flynn co-authored a report in January 2010 through the Center for a New American Security entitled Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan,[5] which criticized the intelligence community for lacking an understanding of the human-socio context of the battlefield in Afghanistan.

Flynn's military career was primarily operational, with numerous combat arms, conventional and special operations senior intelligence assignments. He also served as the senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command, where he was credited with creating innovative techniques for interrogation operations and operations-intelligence fusion, leading to major breakthroughs in counterterrorism operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere against Al-Qaeda and its associated movements. Flynn is a published author, with articles appearing in Small Wars Journal, Military Review, Joint Forces Quarterly, the Center for a New American Security, and other military and intelligence publications.

In May 2016 he emerged as one of several leading possibilities to be the vice presidential running mate for Republican nominee Donald Trump.[6][7][8][9] Not chosen as Trump's running mate, the vice presidential pick was ultimately Indiana Governor Mike Pence.[10] At the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Flynn delivered what the New York Times called a "fiery speech", addressing US leadership and American exceptionalism.

Early life and education

Flynn was born in Middletown, Rhode Island, the son of Helen Frances (Andrews), who worked in real estate, and Charles Francis Flynn, a banker.[11][12][13][14] He graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science degree in management science in 1981 and was a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He also earned a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications from Golden Gate University, a Master of Military Art and Science from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.[3]

Flynn is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course, Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and Naval War College.[3]


1981 to 2001

Flynn's military assignments after joining the Army in 1981 included multiple tours at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, and Joint Special Operations Command, where he deployed for Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. He also served with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.[3]

2001 to 2012

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.[3]

Flynn was the director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007, with service in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). He served as the director of intelligence, United States Central Command from June 2007 to July 2008, as the director of intelligence, Joint Staff from July 2008 to June 2009, then the director of intelligence, International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from June 2009 to October 2010.[3]

In September 2011, Flynn was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. His duties included public, private, and international outreach and engagement. Flynn's primary influence within the U.S. intelligence community was with regard to operational units across all the services, especially in the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance arenas, as well as information technology and organizational design.

Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

On April 17, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.[15][16] Flynn took command of the DIA in July 2012.[17] In October 2012, Flynn announced plans to release his paper "VISION2020: Accelerating Change Through Integration", a broad look at how the Defense Intelligence Agency must transform to meet the national security challenges for the 21st Century.[18]

On April 30, 2014, Flynn announced his retirement effective later in 2014, about a year earlier than he had been scheduled to leave his position. He was reportedly effectively forced out of the DIA after clashing with superiors over his "management style" and vision for the agency.[19][20] He retired as of August 7, 2014.


Association with Russia

In retirement, Flynn was described by the Washington Post as "not hostile to Russia,"[21] while Michael Crowley of Vox described Flynn as having "an odd affection for Russia and its authoritarian government."[22]

After retiring from service with the U.S. government, Flynn began appearing semi-regularly as an analyst on RT, a Kremlin-aligned English-language news outlet.[21][22][23] In 2015, Flynn attended a gala dinner in Moscow in honor of RT, where he was seated two seats away from Russian president Vladimir Putin.[23] Before attending the event, Flynn gave a paid talk on world affairs to a group; Flynn defended the Russian payment in an interview with Michael Isikoff.[23][24] Journalist Michael Crowley of Politico reported that "At a moment of semi-hostility between the U.S. and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin's table startled" U.S. officials.[23]

2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Having already been consulted regarding national security by candidates Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump,[25] Flynn was asked in February 2016 to serve as an adviser to the Trump campaign.[26] In July 2016, it was reported he was being considered as Trump's running mate; Flynn later confirmed that he had submitted vetting documents to the campaign and was willing to accept the Republican Vice-Presidential nomination if chosen.[27][28]

One of the keynote speakers during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, Flynn's speech was referred to as "fiery" by the Los Angeles Times. In it, he stated, "We are tired of Obama’s empty speeches and his misguided rhetoric. This, this has caused the world to have no respect for America’s word, nor does it fear our might." Flynn went on to critically address political correctness and joined the crowd in a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!". During the chants he told those in the audience, "Get fired up! This is about our country."[29][30] During the speech, Flynn also joined chants of "Lock her up!", referring to the Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and stated that she should quit the presidential race.[31][32] He has repeated that she should be "locked up" in subsequent interviews.[33]

While campaigning for Trump, Flynn referred to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the "enemy camp". According to an August 2016 Washington Post article, Flynn has stated that "he would be reluctant to take options" over waterboarding as an interrogation technique "off the table". In May 2016, Flynn was asked by an Al Jazeera reporter if he would support Trump's stated plan to kill the families of suspected terrorists. In response, Flynn stated, “I would have to see the circumstances of that situation”.[31]

Political views

Flynn is a registered Democrat, having grown up in a "very strong Democratic family."[34] However, Flynn was a keynote speakers during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention,[30] and he is a surrogate and top national security adviser for the 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. During the campaign, Flynn has been critical of the Democratic party.[35]

On a July 10, 2016 interview on ABC News' This Week, when asked by host Martha Raddatz about the issue of abortion, Flynn stated, "women have to be able to choose."[34][36] The next day, Flynn said on Fox News that he is a "pro-life Democrat."[37]

When asked about same-sex marriage, Flynn responded, "What people do in their private lives, these are not big issues that our country’s dealing with."[36]


Flynn's non-military awards and decorations include the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal and National Security Agency Distinguished Service Medal.[38] His military awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal,[39] Defense Superior Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster), Bronze Star Medal (with three oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), and several service and campaign medals. Flynn also earned the Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, and Joint Staff Identification Badge.[3]

Flynn is also the recipient of the Congressionally approved Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the 2012 Association of Special Operations Professionals Man of the Year award.

Flynn has an honorary doctorate from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC.[3]


  • The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, with Michael Ledeen, was published by St. Martin's Press in 2016.[40]


  1. ^ a b c Abramson, Alana (July 18, 2016). "Michael Flynn: Everything You Need to Know". ABC News. Retrieved 27 September 2016. 
  2. ^ Mardell, Mark (January 5, 2010). "A damning view of US intelligence in Afghanistan". BBC News. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Michael T. Flynn Biography Retrieved January 2, 2014
  4. ^ Roulo, Claudette (August 7, 2014). "Rogers Lauds Retiring Defense Intelligence Agency Chief". DoD News, Defense Media Activity. 
  5. ^ Michael T. Flynn; Captain Matt Pottinger; Paul D. Batchelor (January 2010). "Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan" (PDF). Center for a New American Security. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  6. ^ Reuven Fenton and Carl Campanile, "Trump’s short list of vice presidential candidates" NY Post May 24, 2016
  7. ^ Will Cadigan, "Trump's Veepstakes: Who is Michael Flynn?" CNN May 26, 2016
  8. ^ Robert Costa, "A curveball in Trump’s Veep search: He’s seriously considering a retired general," Washington Post July 9, 2016
  9. ^ John Santucci and Alana Abramson, "Donald Trump Vetting Gen. Michael Flynn for Potential VP Pick" ABC News July 9, 2016
  10. ^ NY Times Interactive Coverage
  11. ^ "Saluting A Family Legacy". Quadrangles Online. University of Rhode Island. August 13, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2016. 
  12. ^ Gillis, James J. (September 24, 2011). "Brothers in arms". The Newport Daily News. Retrieved July 9, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Recent Losses in the REALTOR Family". Retrieved July 9, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Miss Helen F. Andrews Weds Charles F. Flynn". Newport Mercury. May 10, 1946. Retrieved July 9, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Flynn to head DIA; more general moves announced". Army Times. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  16. ^ Ackerman, Spencer (April 17, 2012). "Military Intelligence Gadfly Will Lead All Military Intelligence". Wired. 
  17. ^ "Panetta: Under Burgess, DIA Evolved Into Global Agency". Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  18. ^ Hoskinson, Charles (October 10, 2012). "DIA maps out new structure to address 'persistent conflict". Defense Systems. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Top 2 Pentagon intelligence officials abruptly quit". Yahoo News. Retrieved July 10, 2016. 
  20. ^ Miller, Greg; Goldman, Adam (April 30, 2014). "Head of Pentagon intelligence agency forced out, officials say". Washington Post. Retrieved July 9, 2016. 
  21. ^ a b Robert Costa, A curveball in Trump’s Veep search: He’s seriously considering a retired general, Washington Post (July 9, 2016).
  22. ^ a b Zack Beauchamp, Michael Flynn, the retired general on Donald Trump's VP shortlist, explained, Vox (July 9, 2016).
  23. ^ a b c d Michael Crowley, The Kremlin's Candidate: In the 2016 election, Putin's propaganda network is picking sides, Politico Magazine (May/June 2016).
  24. ^ Michael Isikoff, Top Trump adviser defends payment for Russian speaking engagement, Yahoo News (July 18, 2016).
  25. ^ Dana Priest (August 15, 2016). "rump adviser Michael T. Flynn on his dinner with Putin and why Russia Today is just like CNN". Washington Post. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  26. ^ Beauchamp, Zack (July 9, 2016). "Michael Flynn, the retired general on Donald Trump's VP shortlist, explained". Vox. 
  27. ^ "A curveball in Trump's Veep search: He's seriously considering a retired general". Retrieved July 11, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Trump Vetting Gen. Michael Flynn for Potential VP Pick". ABC News. July 9, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016. 
  29. ^ East, Kristen (17 July 2016). "Republican National Convention 2016 schedule of speakers". Politico. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  30. ^ a b David S. Cloud and Christine Mai-Duc (July 20, 2016). "Retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn delivers fiery speech to emptying convention hall". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  31. ^ a b "He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he's leading 'Lock her up' chants.". Washington Post. August 15, 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-16. 
  32. ^ Dinan, Stephen (July 18, 2016). "Michael Flynn calls for Hillary Clinton to quit race, go to prison". Washington Times. 
  33. ^ Priest, Dana (August 15, 2016). "Checkpoint Trump adviser Michael T. Flynn on his dinner with Putin and why Russia Today is just like CNN". Washington Post. 
  34. ^ a b Diaz, Daniella (July 10, 2016). "Flynn voices abortion views at odds with Republican platform". CNN. Retrieved July 10, 2016. 
  35. ^ Watkins, Eli (July 24, 2016). "Trump backer Flynn retweets anti-Semitic message, apologizes". CNN. 
  36. ^ a b Kelsey, Adam (July 10, 2016). "Possible Trump VP Pick Flynn Supports Abortion Rights: 'Women Have to Be Able to Choose'". ABC News. Retrieved July 10, 2016. 
  37. ^ Griffin, Jennifer (July 11, 2016). "Trump VP short-lister Flynn clarifies abortion stance, says he's 'pro-life'". Retrieved July 11, 2016. 
  38. ^ "Lt. Gen. Flynn retires from DIA, 33-year Army career". Defense Intelligence Agency. Washington, DC. DIA Public Affairs. August 7, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Lt. Gen. Flynn retires from DIA, 33-year Army career"
  40. ^ Flynn, Michael T.; Ledeen, Michael (2016). The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 1250106222. 

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Ronald Burgess
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
Succeeded by
David Shedd