The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency is being pushed out of the job after a series of clashes over his leadership at an agency that is under pressure to shift focus following more than a decade of war, current and former U.S. officials said.
Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn is expected to announce Wednesday that he is leaving his job as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency more than a year before he was scheduled to depart, according to officials who said that Flynn faced mounting pressure from Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and others in recent months.
The Pentagon did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The move comes at a time when the DIA is in the midst of a series of major changes, including an effort by senior Pentagon officials to expand the agency’s network of spies overseas and work more closely with the CIA. Flynn, who served as a top intelligence adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan, arrived in July 2012 with an ambitious agenda to accelerate the agency’s transformation. But critics said his management style also sowed chaos, setting aggressive plans for changes without adequate follow-through.
“His vision in DIA was seen as disruptive; he’s not a guy to take the agency forward in a coordinated and comprehensive manner,” said a former Pentagon official who worked closely with Flynn.
Flynn wanted 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, a former CIA operative who has pushed to model the DIA’s training and overseas presence more closely on its civilian counterpart.
Flynn’s departure, which has been rumored for weeks, was set in motion earlier this year when Clapper informed him that the administration had concluded a leadership change was necessary. Flynn is expected to be replaced by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, who would be the first female DIA director if she is nominated and confirmed.
Flynn was a key player in U.S. military efforts to dismantle insurgent networks in Iraq and Afghanistan, an approach that relied heavily on combining U.S. Special Operations forces with intelligence operatives and analysts. With McChrystal, Flynn helped to compress a cycle of carrying out raids and then exploiting the intelligence from the operation to find another target.
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