Authors: Lieutenant General (Ret.) Michael T. Flynn,Michael Ledeen
The Field of Fight
is a book worth reading by anyone concerned about the future security of America. It is both an engaging personal memoir by a great American soldier and military intelligence officer, General Mike Flynn, and a strategic plan by General Flynn of how to win the global war against Radical Islam and its big, power supporters. The leaders of the next American administration would benefit from reading
The Field of Fight
—The Hon. Joseph I. Lieberman
United States Senator, Connecticut (1989–2013)
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We want to dedicate this book to all intelligence professionals who willingly sacrifice everything they have to protect and defend the United States of America.
I have so many people to thank in helping me achieve this milestone in my life. To
, after our many lengthy and late night debates about the nature of the threats America faces. Michael encouraged me to put my thoughts to paper and start typing. His total commitment to this effort and dedicated support, as well as his enormously courageous and effective writing and research skills, got me through this first book,
The Field of Fight
. He helped me precisely describe my own passions, fears, and beliefs for our country and our future generations.
I also want to thank my entire family. My wife and sons, as well as their families for putting up with endless requests to read and reread, edit, and opine on critical parts of the manuscript during the rough draft period. To my other siblings, relatives, and friends for their time and contributions in helping describe and give thoughts to key aspects of my life, leading up to and over three decades of proud service in the United States military.
There are many incredibly courageous friends I also want to thank, who must go unnamed here due to their continued service to our country in the intelligence, law enforcement, and military communities. Still others who are now out of service to our country, yet served in critical assignments and places with me and believe as I do, that this country is the greatest country on the planet. But to stay strong and on top, we must remain vigilant against the relentless and steady assault on our value system as well as our way of life. A way of life I will forever be thankful for, and why I believe we must start winning again.
Michael T. Flynn
Much of the information in this book came from those who trained, worked, and fought alongside Lt. Gen. Flynn on foreign battlefields and within the American military and defense agencies. Dozens of interviews were conducted in the second half of 2015, with the promise that interviewees’ anonymity would be respected. Some of the sources were top officials, while others were junior officers, noncommissioned officers, and intelligence analysts. We thank them all for their time and their candor.
We extend particular gratitude to the late Colonel (Ret.) Thomas O’Connell, a great American hero who suddenly and unexpectedly died while we were writing
The Field of Fight
. He will have a special place in our hearts, and in Arlington National Cemetery.
In late 2005, U.S. Special Forces fighters attacked an al Qaeda safe house in central Iraq, in an operation called Objective Rivergate. We believed an important leadership meeting was taking place. It was a fierce battle, but we killed and captured most of the terrorists, and took over the house. This was the beginning of wisdom for us. The treasure trove of documents and media discovered inside a garbage bag and smelly garbage cans gave us that wisdom.
Inside the garbage containers we found extensive documentation of our enemies’ knowledge and thinking. To our surprise and horror, we saw they knew a great deal about us, including the names of many local informants. They also had done a lot of planning, laying out specific objectives, the risks associated with attacking them, and the measures they should take to thwart our countermeasures.
Until Objective Rivergate, we had no idea that al Qaeda in Iraq had anything approaching that degree of sophistication. We were compelled to reevaluate our picture of the war. This was an enemy we had to take far more seriously.
Six months later we attacked another safe house, which we called Objective Larchwood. We arrived shortly after a very important meeting that had included the chief of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. We captured a laptop computer with a video on it, showing Zarqawi himself making a PowerPoint presentation to his commanders, discussing the course of the war, analyzing al Qaeda’s successes and failures, ordering changes in tactics, and then leading his men in song and prayer. Zarqawi and the video were every bit as professional as anything our analysts and strategists had imagined him to be or could create.
That was ten years ago. Today Radical Islamists are fighting us on a much bigger battlefield, including our homeland (the director of the FBI has testified that he is running investigations of ISIS—the Islamic State, the successor to al Qaeda in Iraq—in every one of our fifty states). By now, we have seen numerous arrests, various attacks in our cities and against our law enforcement professionals, and young men and women being brainwashed by Radical Islamists. It is time we get serious against this vicious, barbaric enemy.
We’re in a world war, but very few Americans recognize it, and fewer still have any idea how to win it.
I’ve been fighting for more than thirty-three years, much of the time at the top levels of U.S. military intelligence. I have some strong feelings about this war, about our “field of fight.” The title comes from the ancient Greek epic poet Homer, writing in the
about a battle involving both men and gods. Our most fanatical contemporary enemies think they are in a similar battle with us. Most of them believe their cause is blessed and supported by the Almighty. We must prove them wrong.
I wrote this book for two reasons:
1. To show you the war being waged against us. This administration has forbidden us to describe our enemies properly and clearly: they are Radical Islamists. They are not alone, and are allied with countries and groups who, though not religious fanatics, share their hatred of the West, particularly the United States and Israel. Those allies include North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba, and Venezuela.
2. To lay out a winning strategy. Any reader needs to judge the reliability of the book’s author, and I’ll tell you about myself so you can make an informed decision. I don’t fit the stereotype most people have of a military officer, never mind a career intelligence officer. I had a successful career in the United States Army, but I’m a maverick, an atypical square peg in a round hole, as both my friends and critics will attest. My maverick direction started when I was a lot younger than I am today.
I’ve fought in this war on physical and bureaucratic battlefields, from Afghanistan, Iraq, and African jungles, to the highest level of the United States’ intelligence and military establishments. I know our enemies better than most “experts,” and I’m plenty scared.
We could lose. In fact, right now we’re losing. To make matters worse, our political leaders insist that the war is going very well, and the scores of professional analysts who know better are being censored when they report the truth to their superiors. I know this story firsthand. In 2014, I was fired as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency after telling a congressional committee that we were not as safe as we had been a few years back.
Others who want to tell the truth about the war are fighting back against their censors. In the late summer of 2015, dozens of military analysts protested that their superiors at CENTCOM—the Central Command for the war in the Middle East—were blocking or altering their reports on the true course of events. That allegation was then investigated by the Pentagon’s inspector general. The story was leaked, and congressional hearings were held. This book shows that the censorship isn’t new; it has been going on for years, and threatens our ability to win.
I also have a lot to say about Iran, which is responsible for killing hundreds of Americans in Lebanon, East Africa, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We’ve known about Iran’s murderous activities for many years, and you’ll learn how we knew it and how the information was long suppressed by two consecutive administrations.
There’s a lot of information on Iran in the files and computer discs captured at the Pakistan hideout of Osama bin Laden. Here, too, the censors have been busy. Some of it—a tiny fraction—has been declassified and released, but the bulk of it is still under official seal. Those of us who have read bin Laden’s material know how important it is, and I’ll tell you as much as I’m allowed.
Other information about Iran comes from the battlefield, where the Iranians have killed and maimed our troops, and continue to do so. I’ll tell you how we uncovered the Iranian network in Iraq, largely by the use of spies who went back and forth between the two countries to gather the truth for us.
Then there are the terror groups, principally ISIS and al Qaeda. By now, we have seen so many horrific acts—from beheadings to crucifixions and burning captives alive—that many attentive people imagine them to be savages, barbarians. They are certainly barbaric, but they are driven by a systematic vision of how to conquer the world and impose their religious ideology on all of us. Did you know that ISIS has long worked from a detailed written timetable for global victory? It’s a Radical Islamic
, and was discovered by a courageous young female American journalist in Pakistan in 2015. You’ll get all the details.
We face a formidable group of terrorists and hostile countries, and we’ve got to be better prepared to compete or we will need to be ready to destroy them. That requires better strategy, as well as better intelligence, to which I devoted all my brainpower and passion for a long time. I learned how to get accurate information, which goes hand in hand with the winning strategy, because both the information and the strategy come from the people—the citizens of these countries—caught up in the war itself. We must work closely with those people. They have the crucial information, and they will determine who wins. I changed our methods in Iraq in 2004 and in Afghanistan starting in 2010, and they worked.