"We are going to move this command into the 21st century as fast as we can," Flynn told them. "If you want to push back, push back. If what I am saying isn't right, tell me. But from my experience, we can do this, and we can do it faster. Do not worry about perfect."
A few days later, Afghanistan's military command center got its top-secret communications equipment and a direct link to McChrystal's war room in Kabul, the capital.
On a summer evening in Kabul, darkness had fallen as Flynn scurried through a maze of buildings to his destination, a meeting being run by McChrystal.
Halfway there, Flynn stopped. "I get this feeling of anxiety," he said.
He fears that he will overlook an important issue or fail to prepare the commander for a crucial decision. "I can't miss anything," he said.
In front of the military headquarters, 42 flags representing the NATO countries and other nations contributing troops form a ring. It had been the deadliest fighting season for the alliance since the war began. On most other days, the 42 flags have been at half staff.
"The flags are at full mast," Flynn said that night as he looked up. "It is a good day."
Then he walked into the building and went back to work.
Times staff writer Greg Miller in Washington contributed to this report.