Flynn Says Killing Terrorists as a Strategy Is a Failure
August 9, 2014 • 12:59PM

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is to retire as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the next few days, is not going out with a whimper. In an interview with Breaking Defense that was posted Thursday, Flynn, who already has a reputation for being outspoken and blunt, says, among other things, that the world has become a far more dangerous place than it was before. He doesn't say so, directly, but one could draw the conclusion from his comments that the policy behind the US war on terrorism has failed mightily.

"[I]n 2004, there were 21 total Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 18 countries," he said. "Today, there are 41 Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 24 countries. A lot of these groups have the intention to attack Western interests, to include Western embassies and in some cases Western countries. Some have both the intention and some capability to attack the United States homeland." He cites Syria as part of the problem with the outflow of jihadi fighters from that war. "These are people who have a very deeply-rooted belief system that is just difficult for Americans to comprehend," he said. "Just think about the mindset of a suicide bomber."

When the interviewer asked Flynn why he pushed back against the notion that AQ was on the wane after the killing of Bin Laden, he said: "Theres' a political component to that issue, but when Bin Laden was killed there was a general sense that maybe this threat would go away. We all had those hopes, including me. But I also remembered my many years in Afghanistan and Iraq [fighting insurgents]. We kept decapitating the leadership of these groups, and more leaders would just appear from the ranks to take their place. That's when I realized that decapitation alone was a failed strategy."

Flynn has been described by sources as a close ally of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, particularly when Dempsey was pushing back against the notion of a US military intervention in Syria and such other kinds of rashness, as well as being a "mighty irritant" to the interventionists in the White House and the National Security Council. This may have something to do with his premature departure from his job. In the interview, he shed some light on that, reporting that when he took the position at DIA, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's instruction to him was to "shape the place up." "

Maybe it did get to the point where I was a little too far out in front of my headlights," he said. "I had a meeting with my boss and the message was 'it's time for you to go,' and my reaction was to salute and say,'Okay, no problem.'"