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Michael Vickers

8 - Michael Vickers
2012 Rank: 5

Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence
A former Special Forces enlisted soldier who later joined the CIA, Vickers has spent decades in the shadowy realm where the military and intelligence communities overlap. As a CIA paramilitary operations officer in the 1980s, he helped arm Afghanistan’s mujahedeen against occupying Soviet forces; more recently, he has helped forge closer ties between the Pentagon and the CIA. Vickers’ Defense Department tenure straddles the Bush and Obama administrations. He was appointed assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict in 2007 and promoted to his current post in 2010. Amid an often-invisible war fought by special operators whose most vital asset is intelligence, Vickers is one of the nation’s most critical behind-the-scenes leaders, as well as a skilled bureaucratic battler. Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former US Special Operations Command chief and Afghanistan war commander, credits Vickers with expanding the military’s fleet of armed UAVs. He also pushed the attack that nailed Osama bin Laden. Once thought to be a candidate to succeed David Petraeus (No. 71) as CIA director, he remains a major influence in the counterinsurgency efforts waged by DoD and CIA. He is a candidate for any top national intelligence job — no matter which party controls the White House.

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