On Friday, February 18, 2011, Major General Michael T. Flynn, who has been nominated for Assistant Deputy National Intelligence (DNI), and recently served as Chief, CJ2, International Security Assistance Force and CJ2, United States Forces - Afghanistan, gave a report to IWP students, faculty, and friends on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
MG Flynn stressed that "people are the number one cost and absolutely our number one priority" - no matter what your career path. This is true for those with whom he serves, as well as those whom the military works to liberate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Intelligence and intelligence-sharing is essential toward building and maintaining relationships and giving the United States a strategic advantage.
MG Flynn noted that forces had to be rewritten and restructured in the middle of the current war, and that a change had to happen in the application of intelligence toward crafting and executing a strategic campaign plan. Though the various arms of the government do not have the same idea of how the campaign should be conducted, MG Flynn feels that education is the key toward managing an effective campaign and ensuring a better future for those in the Middle East.
Education, according to MG Flynn, is relatively inexpensive. He suggested that the government and military should invest in their people, as it makes them more successful and effective. U.S. intelligence today provides the United States with strategic advantage. So much intelligence is available via open sources; it is a matter of learning how to read it and make the necessary inferences from it.
MG Flynn acknowledged that it is wise to continue to consult subject matter experts, private industry, and academia. He shared his opinion that the U.S. has the capability and capacity, as well as moral responsibility, to provide the nations we are protecting with intelligence, as intel sharing is a two-way street.
MG Flynn outlined one of his goals for intelligence reform: to make people understand U.S. policy, as this communication is essential toward effecting change, especially when working directly with the Afghan and Pakistani people and security forces. Tectonic shifts like the revolts happening in North Africa show that the people are both receptive and resistant in turn to change and liberalization. Toward this end, the United States must be consistent with its national security policies over time and have intellectually agile people working in the intelligence community and leadership.
MG Flynn concluded his talk by bringing it back to the importance of communication and relationships, explaining that,"The nation needs young people to be laser-focused on specific problems because the higher up the chain one is, the less focused they may be." MG Flynn asked the students present to remember that "when it's time to speak, make sure you speak... Speak your mind... We need people to be intellectually courageous," because those who have confidence and a desire to learn are the ones that you want on your team.