- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lacy Hebert
Best Defense office of analyzing intelligence analysis
One lesson that Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, says he takes from his years of experience in the intelligence field is that challenges can be overcome as long as U.S. intelligence agencies invest, prioritize, and most importantly, collaborate. "If there’s one thing that we know," he says, "it’s that we absolutely can’t do any of this alone."
This does not just include three-letter agencies collaborating and working together, however. Flynn, speaking at the Brookings Institution recently, said that it is essential that the United States partner with other countries, with foreign law enforcement, and with non-governmental organizations to share knowledge and experience. By contrast, he said, it is the failure to cooperate, the withholding of knowledge, the going it alone, that results in gaps in our intelligence and makes us vulnerable.
For example, said Flynn, a former director of intelligence for U.S. Central Command, al Qaeda in Syria is a serious problem for not just the region, but for the international community as a whole. Foreign elements fighting there will improve and develop their skills and then are likely to bring those skills back to their home countries or elsewhere. One side effect of the Syrian civil war is that the international community has begun talking about this, he said.