The Field of Fight

Title:                      The Field of Fight

Author:                 Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn

Flynn, Michael T. (2016) and Michael Ledeen. The Field of Fight: How We Can Win The Global War Against Radical Islam And Its Allies. New York: St. Martin’s Press

LCCN:    2016018422

HV6432 .F5795 2016

Contents

  • Introduction — The making of an intel officer — War fighting — The enemy alliance — How to win — Conclusion.

Subjects

Date Updated:  September 22, 2017

Reviewed in The Intelligencer[1]

Now in paperback. A war is being waged against us by radical Islamists, and, as current events demonstrate, they are only getting stronger, says Flynn, current National Security Adviser[2].

AI-Qaeda has morphed into a much more dangerous, menacing threat: ISIS. Lt. General Michael T. Flynn is blunt and urgent. This book aims to inform the American people of the grave danger we face in the war on terror—and will continue to face—until our government takes decisive action against the terrorists that want nothing more than to destroy us and our way of life.

Flynn spent more than thirty three years in Army intelligence, and as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency worked closely with Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, Admiral Mike Mullen, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and other policy, defense, intelligence, and war-fighting leaders. From coordinating on-the-ground operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, to building reliable intelligence networks, to preparing strategic plans for fighting terrorism, Flynn has been a firsthand witness to government screw-ups, smokescreens, and censored information that, he says, our leaders don’t want us to know.

The Field of Fight succinctly lays out why we have failed to stop terrorist groups from growing, and what we must do to stop them. The core message by Flynn is that you must understand your enemies to defeat them—and he claims government has concealed the actions of terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda, and the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam, resulting in the US not fully understanding the enormity of the threat they pose against us. This is a call by Flynn to action.

Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake[3]

The Field of Fight[4] tells the story of Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, an Army brat who devoted his 33-year career to military intelligence. A self-described “maverick, an atypical square peg in a round hole,” (p. 3) he concedes that his critics see him as a strong-willed, unbending contrarian. After asserting his views on the war on terror to a Congress and government that did not wish to hear them, he was forced to retire one year early as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He wrote this book to alert the public to the threat posed by “Radical Islamists”—a term he was forbidden to use while on active duty—to account for the mistakes that allowed the threat to increase, and to “lay out a winning strategy.” (p. 3) To establish his credentials, after a brief account of his formative years, he describes the importance of military intelligence and how it evolved during his career, in the field at all levels of command; and the impact of political decisions on the military as it tried to fight the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Flynn sets the stage by explaining how a “nasty tough kid” (p. 13) who dropped out of college after one year managed to return with an Army ROTC scholarship and receive a commission as a military intelligence officer “in the field of signals intelligence and electronic warfare.” (p. 18) After assignments in the states and overseas, Flynn was assigned to Ft. Polk as an instructor. It was there he met then-“Colonels Stan McChrystal (and] David Petraeus.” (p. 32) From their discussions about fighting a guerrilla war, he realized that timely intelligence “would be vastly more important” (p. 33) fighting terrorists than it had been under WWII conditions. Throughout the narrative he lays out the basic principles and innovative approaches he developed-both technical and personnel-oriented-required to provide the timely intelligence needed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Command (CENTCOM), and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Field of Fight provides examples of how Flynn implemented his largely successful concepts and their use in “the surge” in the Iraq War. In doing so, other problems emerged that, from Flynn’s frustrated perspective, complicated accomplishing the mission. For example, when Iranians were discovered supporting-financially and with sophisticated electronics-insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan, permission to “go after them” was refused repeatedly by two administrations. On the home front, when the administration assured “the American people that al-Qa’ida was broken,” while intelligence showed “their strength had roughly doubled” and the threat spread to Yemen and Africa, (p. 105) the decision to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan made things worse. Flynn asserts that these and other facts, coupled with the appearance on the scene of ISIS, whose members a highly skilled in the use of social media, meant that the terrorists were winning, and he would later say as much to Congress.

In a chapter tided “How to Win,” Flynn recommends destroying the jihadi armies and discrediting their ideology, among other actions-but he also discusses the political and military difficulties associated with actually doing so. He concludes with a warning about the global intentions and ambitions of ISIS/ISIL and other radicals—not Muslims in general. To emphasize the risks associated with failing to challenge them in the media and on the battlefield, Flynn quotes an ISIS leader: “the Caliphate will … take over the entire world and behead every last person who rebels against Allah … this is the bitter truth, swallow it.” (p. 159)

The Field of Fight is a spirited, candid, and sometimes colorful account of the threat of radical terrorism and what is, in General Flynn’s view, necessary to defeat it.

[1] Reviewed in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 3, Winter 2016-17, p. 133).

[2] Flynn was offered the job of National Security Adviser on November 17, 2016. He resigned on February 13, 2017.

[3] Peake, Hayden in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (23, 1 Summer 2017, pp.123-124 ). Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence, Other reviews and articles may be found online at http://www.cia.gov

[4] The title is taken from Homer’s Iliad. (p. 3) See also Jason Manosevitz’s combined review of this book and The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia by Kurt Campbell In Studies in Intelligence (60, 4, Extracts, December 2016)

 

The Field of Fight succinctly lays out why we have failed to stop terrorist groups from growing, and what we must do to stop them. The core message by Flynn is that you must understand your enemies to defeat them—and he claims government has concealed the actions of terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda, and the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam, resulting in the US not fully understanding the enormity of the threat they pose against us. This is a call by Flynn to action.

[1] Reviewed in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 3, Winter 2016-17, p. 133).

[2] Flynn was offered the job of National Security Adviser on November 17, 2016. He resigned on February 13, 2017.

This entry was posted in Terrorism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s