“Fixing Intel“, era questo il titolo di un saggio pubblicato dal Center for a New American Century di Washington nel gennaio del 2010. Gli autori formulavano una serie di proposte con l’obiettivo di rendere più efficace l’intelligence militare sul campo di battaglia, in particolare nel contrasto all’insorgenza afghana.
Il documento ebbe allora molta eco anche perchè conteneva una neanche tanto velata critica al sistema di intelligence del Pentagono, proveniente, perdipiù, da un alto dirigente militare. Tra gli autori, infatti, vi era il generale Flynn, allora Deputy Chief of Staf dell’ISAF.
Poco più di due anni dopo Flynn è stato nominato direttore proprio della DIA dando il via ad un processo di riorganizzazione funzionale della principale agenzia di intelligence del Dipartimento della Difesa. Un processo, però, che entro un paio di mesi dovrebbe interrompersi dato che il generale Flynn è stato “dimissionato”:
[…] Flynn, who served as a top intelligence adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan, arrived at the DIA in July 2012 vowing to accelerate the agency’s overhaul. Asked after a public speech how he would treat employees reluctant to embrace his agenda, Flynn said he would “move them or fire them.”
He drafted a blueprint that called for sending more employees overseas, being more responsive to regional U.S. military commanders, and turning analysts’ attention from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan to a broader array of emerging national security threats.
“I think that Flynn’s efforts to move the organization into a role supporting combatant commanders was spot on and it is where DIA should be heading,” said Fred Kagan, a military historian and unpaid adviser to the DIA. “I think that he was trying to introduce a lot of valuable innovation into the organization.”
Critics said that his management style could be chaotic and that the scope of his plans met resistance from both superiors and subordinates. At the same time, his tenure was marked by significant turbulence, including the fallout from the classified intelligence files leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, as well as other emerging crises.
“His vision in DIA was seen as disruptive,” said a former Pentagon official who worked closely with Flynn. At the DIA, Flynn sought to push DIA analysts and operators “up and out of their cubicles into the field to support war fighters or high-intensity operations,” the former official said. “I’m not sure DIA sees itself as that.”
Flynn clashed with other high-ranking officials, including Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers. Officials said Flynn had opposed Vickers’ efforts to make significant cuts to large intelligence centers established to support the U.S. military’s regional overseas commands. A former CIA operative, Vickers has sought to model the DIA’s training and overseas presence more closely on its civilian counterpart, according to current and former U.S. officials.
The plan has encountered significant opposition on Capitol Hill, particularly from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who have voiced concern over the cost of creating the Defense Clandestine Service, and questioned whether Pentagon spies would end up being used to fill intelligence gaps that are supposed to be handled by the CIA.