Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Flynn Report: Opening Salvo

When three people ask you within a one-hour span whether you've read "The Flynn Report" that probably means it's time to read it. Thankfully, both Cliff Krieger and a former colleague of mine just sent me virtual copies, nearly simultaneously.

I've given it a once-over, and it's coming with me to drill weekend for some by-the-headlamp reading on Saturday night.

Although I admit when I first heard about it I was afraid it was just more dumping on the S2 (I think the S2 is often the hardest-worked and most-underappreciated shop in a Tactical Operations Center), I think Flynn is saying more about the way S2 (Military Intelligence) personnel are being used overseas.

For starters, there are way too many top-heavy Intel shops that are too close the flagpole. I've never set foot in Afghanistan, but one thing I can say for certain is that in any part of Iraq that I saw from 06-08, there were always too many S2 personnel working at the upper echelons, while the tactical elements were starving for more.

What I believe General Flynn is saying is that it's those elements -- the ones actually doing the foot patrols and the mounted convoys -- who need people writing reports that move up the chain, and pushing other reporting and expertise to the joes.

What we certainly DON'T need are large self-licking ice cream cones of people making endless pretty PowerPoint slides for an O-6 or above, patting themselves on the back, writing up their Bronze Star citations and calling it a day.

What tactical value are those people providing?

I thought this was a particularly good nugget from the report:

"Leaders must put time and energy into selecting the best, most extroverted and hungriest analysts to serve in the Stability Operations Information Centers."

By implication, I believe that Flynn is saying this is not currently the case -- there are too many people "hiding away" without any connection to a maneuver element that can benefit from the product they're providing, or, in turn, provide them with real, on-the-ground insight as to what's going on in the towns and villages.

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