Intel report rattles the ranks but gets backing from Gates
Published: January 8, 2010
In his scathing rebuke of intelligence efforts in Afghanistan, ISAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn upset many in the community by labeling them as "disengaged" and "marginally relevant" in strategic planning.
But Flynn picked up at least one key supporter this week: Robert Gates.
Gates' spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters yesterday that the Defense Secretary saw the sharply worded report "exactly the type of candid, critical self-assessment that the secretary believes is a sign of a strong and healthy organization." In an interview with Reuters today, he said Gates described the ideas as "brilliant."
"This kind of honest appraisal enriches what has been a very real and hearty and vigorous debate that, frankly, has been taking place within this building, within this department and within this government for years now," Morrell said. "And I think we are all open to suggestions about how we can be doing (intelligence) better and how we can be doing this better quickly because, as you know, time is of the essence there."
Morrell sidestepped questions of exactly how the new strategy will be implemented, but said the secretary has faith in Flynn and other military officials serving in Afghanistan.
In the report, Flynn said meaningful change will not occur until intelligence at all levels in Afghanistan is evaluated and improved. He complains about "a single-minded obsession with IEDs" and notes that "sufficient knowledge will not come from slides with little more text than a comic strip."
The end of the report is even more ominous: "History is replete with examples of powerful military forces that lost wars to much weaker opponents because they were inattentive to nuances in their environment."
[PHOTO: Leo Shane]