Michael T. Flynn

For other people named Michael Flynn, see Michael Flynn (disambiguation).
Michael Flynn
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 Michael Thomas Flynn
December 1958 (age 5758)
Middletown, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Rhode Island, Kingston (BS)
Golden Gate University (MBA)
United States Army Command and General Staff College (MMAS)
Naval War College (MA)
Website Official website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1981–2014
Rank 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 (4)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal (4)
Meritorious Service Medal (6)
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal (6)

Michael Thomas "Mike" Flynn (born December 1958) is a retired United States Army lieutenant general who last served as the 18th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, from July 22, 2012 to August 7, 2014.[1]

Flynn's military career was primarily operational, with numerous combat arms, conventional and special operations senior intelligence assignments. He 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,[2]

In addition, Flynn served as the commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, chair of the Military Intelligence Board, Assistant Director of National Intelligence,[3][4] and the senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command. He retired with 33 years service in the Army, a year before he was scheduled to leave his position.

On November 18, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced that Flynn would serve as National Security Advisor in his coming administration. As a member of the Executive Office of the President, Flynn will not require the advice and consent of the United States Senate.[5]

Early life and education

Flynn was born in Middletown, Rhode Island in December 1958,[4] the son of Helen Frances (Andrews), who worked in real estate, and Charles Francis Flynn, a banker.[6][7][8][9] He has Irish Catholic ancestry; his grandfather, also Charles Flynn, was born in 1889 in Blacklands, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, and later settled in Rhode Island after emigrating to the United States in 1913.[10][11][12][13]

Michael Flynn 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.[1]

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.[1]

U.S. Military career

U.S. Army

Flynn was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in military intelligence, in 1981.[1] His military assignments 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 Invasion of Grenada in Grenada and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.[14] 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.[1]

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.[1] He 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.[1][15]

Defense Intelligence Agency, Director

Flynn speaks during the change of directorship for the Defense Intelligence Agency on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

In September 2011, Flynn was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. On April 17, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.[16][17] Flynn took command of the DIA in July 2012.[18] 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.[19] It was meant to emphasize “integration, interagency teamwork and innovation of the whole workforce, not just the technology but the people.” [20]


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 allegedly chaotic management style and vision for the agency.[21][22][23][24] In a private email which was leaked online, Colin Powell said that he had heard in the DIA (apparently from later DIA director Vincent R. Stewart) that Flynn got fired because he was "Abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc."[25] According to the New York Times, Flynn exhibited a loose relationship with facts, leading his subordinates to refer to Flynn's repeated dubious assertions as "Flynn facts".[26]

According to what Flynn had told in one final interview as DIA director, he felt like a lone voice in thinking that the United States was less safe from the threat of Islamic terrorism in 2014 than it was prior to the 9/11 attacks; he went on to believe that he was pressed into retirement for questioning the Obama administration’s public narrative that Al Qaeda was close to defeat.[27] Journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that "Flynn confirmed [to Hersh] that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings ... about the dire consequences of toppling [Syrian President] Assad." Flynn recounted that his agency was producing intelligence reports indicating that radical Islamists were the main force in the Syrian insurgency and "that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria." According to Flynn, these reports "got enormous pushback from the Obama administration," who he felt "did not want to hear the truth." According to former DIA official W. Patrick Lang: "Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria ... they shoved him out. He wouldn't shut up."[28] In an interview with Al Jazeera, Flynn criticized the Obama administration for its delay in supporting the opposition in Syria, thereby allowing for the growth of Al Nusra and other extremist forces: "when you don’t get in and help somebody, they’re gonna find other means to achieve their goals" and that "we should have done more earlier on in this effort, you know, than we did."[29]

Flynn retired from the U.S. Army with 33 years of service on August 7, 2014.[30]


Consulting firm

Main article: Flynn Intel Group

Flynn, along with son Michael G. Flynn, runs Flynn Intel Group which provides intelligence services for business and governments.[31] Several sources, including Politico, have written that Flynn's consulting company is allegedly lobbying for Turkey. A company tied to Erdogan's government, which supports Muslim Brotherhood, is known to have hired Flynn's lobbying firm.[32][33][34][35][36][37] On election day 2016, Flynn wrote an op-ed calling for U.S. backing for Erdogan's government and criticized the regime's opponent, Fethullah Gulen; Flynn did not disclose that Flynn's consulting firm had received funds from a company with ties to Erdogan's government.[38] In July 2016, Flynn said that the coup attempt against Erdogan was something “worth clapping for”, but two months later, when a company tied to Erdogan's government hired Flynn's firm, Flynn hailed Erdogan as a critical U.S. ally.[39]

Flynn sat in on classified national security briefings with then-candidate Trump at the same time that Flynn was working for foreign clients, which raises ethical concerns and conflicts of interest.[40]

Attendance of RT Gala Dinner

In 2015, Flynn attended a gala dinner in Moscow in honor of RT, a Russian government-owned English-language media outlet on which he made semi-regular appearances as an analyst after he retired from U.S. government service. Before the gala, Flynn gave a paid talk on world affairs.[41][42] Flynn defended the Russian payment in an interview with Michael Isikoff.[42] 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, in reference to president Vladimir Putin's attendance of the dinner as the guest of honor.[41]

2016 U.S. presidential election

Flynn at a campaign rally for then-Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, in October 2016.

During one of the debates in the 2015 GOP primaries, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina promised that, if she is elected, she would bring back into the government “the warrior class” of generals, including David Petraeus, Jack Keane, James Mattis, Stanley McChrystal and Flynn.

Having already been consulted regarding national security by Fiorina as well as other candidates, including Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump,[43] Flynn was asked in February 2016 to serve as an adviser to the Trump campaign.[44] 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.[45][46]

As one of the keynote speakers during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention Flynn gave what the Los Angeles Times described as a "fiery" speech, in which 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";[47] he also accused Obama of choosing to conceal the actions of Osama bin Laden and ISIS.[48] 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."[47][49] During the speech, Flynn launched a blistering attack on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, joining chants of "Lock her up!" and calling for her to withdraw from the race.[50][51] He repeated in subsequent interviews that she should be "locked up".[52] While campaigning for Trump, Flynn also referred to Clinton as the "enemy camp".[50]

Flynn was once opposed to waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques that have now been banned; however, according to an August 2016 Washington Post article, he said at one point, in the context of Trump's apparent openness to reinstating such techniques, that "he would be reluctant to take options off the table."[50] In May 2016, Flynn was asked by an Al Jazeera reporter if he would support Trump's stated plan to "take out [the] families"[53][54] of suspected terrorists. In response, Flynn stated, "I would have to see the circumstances of that situation".[50] In an interview with Al Jazeera, Flynn criticized the reliance on drones as a "failed strategy", stating that "what we have is this continued investment in conflict. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just … fuels the conflict.”[55][29]

On November 18, 2016, Flynn accepted president-elect Donald Trump's offer of the position of National Security Advisor.[56]

Political views

Flynn is a registered Democrat, having grown up in a "very strong Democratic family".[57] However, he was a keynote speaker during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention,[47] and he is a surrogate and top national security adviser for president-elect Donald Trump.

During 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."[57][58] The next day, Flynn said on Fox News that he is a "pro-life Democrat".[59]

Flynn has been a board member of ACT! for America[56] and sees the Muslim faith as one of the root causes of Islamist terrorism.[60] He has described Islam as a political ideology and a cancer.[60][61] He stated in a Twitter post that "fear of Muslims is RATIONAL"[56] and included a video link claiming that Islam wants “80% of people enslaved or exterminated”.[62] Initially supportive of Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US, Flynn later told Al Jazeera that a blanket ban was unworkable and has called instead for "vetting" of entrants from countries like Syria.[56] Flynn has stated the U.S. "should extradite Fethullah Gülen" to Turkey and "work constructively with Russia" in Syria.[28][63]

In a review of Flynn's book The Field of Fight, Will McCants of the Brookings Institution described Flynn's worldview as a confused combination of neoconservatism (an insistence on destroying what he sees as an alliance of tyranny, dictatorships, and radical Islamist regimes) and realism (support for working with "friendly tyrants"), although he acknowledged that this could be due to the book having two authors (it being co-authored by Michael Ledeen).[64] 


Flynn is the author of 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.[65]

Military and government awards

Flynn's military decorations and awards include:[1][66]

Government decorations

Other awards and recognitions


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Michael T. Flynn Biography Retrieved January 2, 2014
  2. 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.
  3. Roulo, Claudette (August 7, 2014). "Rogers Lauds Retiring Defense Intelligence Agency Chief". DoD News, Defense Media Activity.
  4. 1 2 Abramson, Alana (July 18, 2016). "Michael Flynn: Everything You Need to Know". ABC News. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  5. Davis, Julie Hirschfeld; Haberman, Maggie. "Trump Is Said to Offer National Security Post to Michael Flynn, Retired General - NYTimes.com". Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  6. "Saluting A Family Legacy". Quadrangles Online. University of Rhode Island. August 13, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  7. Gillis, James J. (September 24, 2011). "Brothers in arms". The Newport Daily News. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  8. "Recent Losses in the REALTOR Family". statewidemls.com. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  9. "Miss Helen F. Andrews Weds Charles F. Flynn". Newspapers.com. Newport Mercury. May 10, 1946. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  10. https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/birth_returns/births_1889/02483/1921562.pdf
  11. http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Tyrone/Fivemiletown/Blacklands/856855/
  12. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JNBG-WNR
  13. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-X4QH-5C?i=2853&cc=1861144
  14. Gal Perl Finkel, President-elect Trump – the ‘West Wing’ lesson, The Jerusalem Post, November 15, 2016.
  15. Mardell, Mark (January 5, 2010). "A damning view of US intelligence in Afghanistan". BBC News.
  16. "Flynn to head DIA; more general moves announced". Army Times. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
  17. Ackerman, Spencer (April 17, 2012). "Military Intelligence Gadfly Will Lead All Military Intelligence". Wired.
  18. "Panetta: Under Burgess, DIA Evolved Into Global Agency". Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  19. Hoskinson, Charles (October 10, 2012). "DIA maps out new structure to address 'persistent conflict". Defense Systems. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  20. Government Executive, Intelligence community must adapt to era of vast data, study says (November 2012).
  21. "Top 2 Pentagon intelligence officials abruptly quit". Yahoo News. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  22. Miller, Greg; Goldman, Adam (April 30, 2014). "Head of Pentagon intelligence agency forced out, officials say". Washington Post. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  23. "Michael Flynn, Trump's military adviser, says Colin Powell's emails include 'really mean things'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  24. Devereaux, Ryan. "An Interview With Michael T. Flynn, the Ex-Pentagon Spy Who Supports Donald Trump". The Intercept. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  25. "Michael Flynn, Trump's military adviser, says Colin Powell's emails include 'really mean things'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  26. Rosenberg, Matthew; Haberman, Maggie (2016-11-17). "Trump Is Said to Offer National Security Post to Michael Flynn, Retired General". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  27. James Kitfield, How Mike Flynn Became America’s Angriest General, Politico Magazine (October 2016).
  28. 1 2 Hersh, Seymour (2016-01-07). "Military to Military". London Review of Books. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  29. 1 2 "Transcript: Michael Flynn on ISIL". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  30. McBride, Jessica (2016-07-10). "Michael Flynn: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  31. "Trump adviser linked to Turkish lobbying". POLITICO. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  32. "Trump Adviser Is Lobbying For Company With Ties To Turkish Government". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  33. "Turkey: AKP's Hidden Agenda or a Different Vision of Secularism?". Nouvelle Europe. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  34. "The "Hidden" That Never Was". Reflections Turkey. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  35. "Support for Muslim Brotherhood isolates Turkey". Die Weld. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  36. Ömer Taşpınar (1 April 2012). "Islamist Politics in Turkey: The New Model?". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  37. "Michael Rubin: The Trump team's first ethics scandal". Newsweek. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  38. Reporter, Jessica Schulberg Foreign Affairs; Post, The Huffington (2016-11-21). "Trump's National Security Adviser Changed His Mind About Turkey Coup Attempt After His Firm Got Involved". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  39. "Michael Flynn, Trump's reported pick for national security adviser, sat in on intel briefings — while advising foreign clients". Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  40. 1 2 Michael Crowley, The Kremlin's Candidate: In the 2016 election, Putin's propaganda network is picking sides, Politico Magazine (May/June 2016).
  41. 1 2 Michael Isikoff, Top Trump adviser defends payment for Russian speaking engagement, Yahoo News (July 18, 2016).
  42. Dana Priest (August 15, 2016). "Trump adviser Michael T. Flynn on his dinner with Putin and why Russia Today is just like CNN". Washington Post. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  43. Beauchamp, Zack (July 9, 2016). "Michael Flynn, the retired general on Donald Trump's VP shortlist, explained". Vox.
  44. "A curveball in Trump's Veep search: He's seriously considering a retired general". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  45. "Trump Vetting Gen. Michael Flynn for Potential VP Pick". ABC News. July 9, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  46. 1 2 3 Cloud, David S.; Mai-Duc, Christine (July 20, 2016). "Retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn delivers fiery speech to emptying convention hall". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  47. Regated. Reverse Redacted: Michael Flynn Speech Highlights
  48. East, Kristen (17 July 2016). "Republican National Convention 2016 schedule of speakers". Politico. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  49. 1 2 3 4 "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.
  50. Dinan, Stephen (July 18, 2016). "Michael Flynn calls for Hillary Clinton to quit race, go to prison". Washington Times.
  51. 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.
  52. "Trump on Beating ISIS: 'You Have to Take Out Their Families'". Fox News. 2015-12-02. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  53. Stein, Sam (2016-03-09). "Trump Says He Never Pledged To Kill Family Members Of Terrorists". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  54. Hussain, Murtaza. "Retired General: Drones Create More Terrorists Than They Kill, Iraq War Helped Create ISIS". The Intercept. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  55. 1 2 3 4 Khan, Mariam (2016-11-18). "Trump's National Security Adviser Has Called Islam 'a Cancer'". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  56. 1 2 Diaz, Daniella (July 10, 2016). "Flynn voices abortion views at odds with Republican platform". CNN. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  57. 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.
  58. Griffin, Jennifer (July 11, 2016). "Trump VP short-lister Flynn clarifies abortion stance, says he's 'pro-life'". Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  59. 1 2 Rosenberg, Matthew; Haberman, Maggie (2016-11-17). "Trump Is Said to Offer National Security Post to Michael Flynn, Retired General". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  60. Mangla, Ismat Sarah. "Islam is a "malignant cancer": The hateful rhetoric of Trump's new national security adviser". Quartz. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  61. "Donald Trump's national-security team takes shape: Jim Mattis would be a reassuring choice; Mike Flynn is an alarming one". The Economist. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  62. Sanger, David E. (2016-11-11). "Donald Trump Likely to End Aid for Rebels Fighting Syrian Government". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  63. Will McCants (July 19, 2016). "Realist or neocon? Mixed messages in Trump advisor's foreign policy vision". Markaz: Middle East Politics & Policy. Brookings Institution.
  64. 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.
  65. "Lt. Gen. Flynn retires from DIA, 33-year Army career"
  66. "Lt. Gen. Flynn retires from DIA, 33-year Army career". Defense Intelligence Agency. Washington, DC. DIA Public Affairs. August 7, 2014.

External links

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Government offices
Preceded by
Ronald Burgess
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
Succeeded by
David Shedd
Political offices
Preceded by
Susan Rice
National Security Advisor

Taking office 2017
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