When I saw the photos this week of a grim-faced Michael Flynn, he seemed unrecognizable as the same man who joshed around with his kid brother just a few years ago at Fort Bragg.
Flynn was in town to pick up an award from the Association of Special Operations Professionals, but he was no stranger to eastern North Carolina. He had military intelligence jobs in the 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Airborne Corps and, most importantly, Joint Special Operations. JSOC is Fort Bragg’s most secretive command, so secret, it has its own gated compound within the gated Army post.
In 2012, when photographer Raul R. Rubiera snapped that photo, Flynn was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, a behemoth of 16,500 employees producing, analyzing and disseminating military intelligence information. Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was joined by his younger brother, Brig. Gen. Charlie Flynn, for an interview with veteran military reporter and editor Henry Cuningham after the awards ceremony. Many soldiers will often say that the military is a family business, but brother generals are fairly unusual.
That was a good day. Gen. David Rodriguez, then commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces Command, was on hand, and I suspect there was a constellation of stars there that day, the cadre of retired four-star generals living in southeastern North Carolina who are regulars at Fort Bragg change-of-command and retirement ceremonies. It didn’t last, of course. The rest you know: President Obama fired Mike Flynn in 2014, bringing an end to his military career. In civilian life, Flynn became a fiery critic of the Obama administration. President Trump named him as national security adviser, and on Monday, Flynn resigned after acknowledging he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.
What you might not know is that the younger Flynn is now Maj. Gen. Charlie Flynn, deputy commander of U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. But I wonder if both brothers miss simpler days in North Carolina.