Michael G. (“Mike”) Vickers was nominated by President Barack Obama as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USDI) on September 29, 2010, and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on March 17, 2011. Secretary Vickers served as Acting USDI from January 28, 2011, to March 17, 2011, and as the first and only Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity & Interdependent Capabilities (ASD SO/LIC&IC) from July 23, 2007 to March 17, 2011. His service has spanned the administrations of both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
As the USDI, Secretary Vickers exercises authority, direction, and control on behalf of the Secretary of Defense over all intelligence and security organizations within the Department of Defense, including the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Defense Security Service and the intelligence components of the combatant commands and military services. He is the principal intelligence advisor to the Secretary of Defense, the Program Executive for the Military Intelligence Program, and the Principal Staff Assistant overseeing the Department’s Battlespace Awareness Portfolio. Across the defense intelligence components of the National Intelligence Program, the BA Portfolio and the MIP, Secretary Vickers leads an enterprise with $80 billion in annual budget authority and 180,000 personnel. He is also dual-hatted as Director of Defense Intelligence in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and reports to the DNI in this capacity. He is the Department’s principal interface with the Central Intelligence Agency and other elements of the Intelligence Community, and represents the Department on intelligence and sensitive operations at Deputies and Principals Committee meetings of the National Security Council.
Secretary Vickers is the Department’s longest serving USDI. During his tenure he has led a comprehensive, mission-focused transformation of defense intelligence, and has provided policy and operational oversight for numerous sensitive intelligence, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, counterproliferation, counternarcotics, paramilitary support, and counterintelligence operations. He played a critical policy and planning role in the operation that brought justice to Usama bin Ladin.
As ASD (SO/LIC&IC), Secretary Vickers served as the “Service” Secretary for all Special Operations Forces, and as the senior civilian adviser to the Secretary of Defense on counterterrorism, irregular warfare and special activities. He played a central role in shaping U.S. strategy for the war with al Qa’ida and the war in Afghanistan, and conceived of and led the largest expansion of SOF capabilities and capacity in history. In his Interdependent Capabilities role, he had oversight of all global operations, and oversight of the core operational capabilities (strategic forces, conventional forces, and special operations forces) of the Department of Defense, as well as the functional combatant commands (United States Strategic Command, Special Operations Command, Joint Forces Command and Transportation Command). With the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he had oversight of the force application (maneuver and fires) joint capability area, representing $240 billion in annual budget authority and more than $1 trillion in acquisition programs.
From 1973 to 1986, Secretary Vickers served as an Army Special Forces Non-Commissioned Officer, Special Forces Officer, and CIA Operations Officer. He had operational and combat experience in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Central and South Asia. His operational experience spans covert action and espionage, unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and foreign internal defense. During the mid-1980s, Secretary Vickers was the principal strategist for the largest covert action program in the CIA’s history: the paramilitary operation that drove the Soviet army out of Afghanistan.
Secretary Vickers holds a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, from the University of Alabama, a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations/Strategic Studies from the Johns Hopkins University.