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Top U.S. intel officer in Afghanistan to leave post

The top U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, who has led an aggressive and controversial push to change what kinds of intelligence the military collects, will be returning to Washington, a defense official said.

Army Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn is expected to be promoted to lieutenant general and take a job with James Clapper, the new director of national intelligence, who had pushed hard for Flynn to work for him, the official said.

Flynn arrived in Afghanistan in June 2009 with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who had been appointed the previous top commander in Afghanistan. The two officers had worked together on several previous occasions and had a close relationship.

McChrystal resigned under pressure in June following the publication of a Rolling Stone article in which some of his staff made derogatory remarks about senior Obama administration officials. Several senior officers from his staff have left their positions in recent months.

Still, McChrystal's successor, Gen. David H. Petraeus, has retained many of his key advisers. Petraeus has also recruited many senior officers who played prominent roles for him in Iraq in 2007.

In Afghanistan, Flynn produced a controversial report entitled "Fixing Intel," which criticized the military intelligence apparatus for being too focused on gathering information about the Taliban and failing to understand the cultural, economic and tribal dynamics that influence security and governance throughout Afghanistan.

Flynn controversially published his article through the Center for a New American Security, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, instead of releasing it through official channels. The move drew a mild disapproval from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who said he largely agreed with Flynn's assessment.

By Greg Jaffe  | September 9, 2010; 3:03 PM ET
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