Keeping Flynn in Afghanistan

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Gen. David Petraeus, the new commanding general of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, is slowly reshuffling staff at COMISAF headquarters in Kabul. So it's significant that he's decided to retain the services of Major Gen. Michael Flynn, the chief of intelligence, an outspoken military intelligence innovator who honed his leadership skills as director of intelligence for America's front-line counterterrorism forces from 2004 to 2007. 

There, he refined and developed concepts that the military uses today to track, capture, and kill insurgents. 

He followed his boss, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to the joint staff from 2008 to 2009, and then to Afghanistan, where McChrystal became the commanding general. (He also spent a year as CJ2 -- that is, Chief of Intelligence -- at CENTCOM.)

In the early phases of the war on terror, as director of intelligence for Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan, which included the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne, Flynn was responsible for intelligence gathering and collection for most of the forward deployed forces.

As Spencer Ackerman notes, Flynn has a pretty good idea of how to collect and exploit intelligence in a way that supports the goals of a counterinsurgency strategy.

A few other counterterrorism names in the news:

The director of the White House situation room, RDML (sel) Jeff Harley, will become the director of strategy of plans for CENTCOM under Gen. James Mattis. And RDML (sel) Scott Moore will become the chief of operations for the Joint Staff's special operations division, J-37. He's now a senior director on the National Security Council for combating terrorism.

Yesterday, Leon Panetta appointed a veteran of CIA counterterrorism operations, John Bennett, as chief of the National Clandestine Service. Bennett had been a senior manager at the Counterterrorism Center and was responsible for coordinating the CIA's forward counterterrorism missions, including drone strikes, during the final years of the Bush Administration. He was also a former chief of station in Pakistan.


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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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