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Obama nominates Vickers for DOD intelligence post

President Obama has nominated Michael G. Vickers, a Pentagon official with a long resume in special warfare and spycraft, to be the Defense Department's top intelligence officer.

If confirmed by the Senate, Vickers would succeed James R. Clapper Jr. as undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Clapper was promoted in August to the post of director of national intelligence.

Vickers currently serves as assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict & interdependent capabilities, a long title that means he oversees the Pentagon's secret operations worldwide, including hot spots such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Colombia.

Like his boss, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Vickers is a holdover from the Bush administration. He worked closely with Gates at the CIA in the 1980s, when Vickers was "the principal strategist for for the largest covert action program in the CIA's history: the paramilitary operation that drove the Soviet army out of Afghanistan," according to his official biography.

His role in that fight against the Soviets was extensively detailed in the 2003 book "Charlie Wilson's War," by George Crile, which later became a movie of the same name.

Since re-joining the Defense Department in 2007 under Bush, Vickers has overseen a major expansion of activities by the secretive Special Operations forces, an approach that the Obama administration has re-embraced as a centerpiece of its counterterrorism strategy.

Vickers attended the University of Alabama as an undergraduate, earned an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School and holds a doctorate in international relations and strategic studies from Johns Hopkins University.

By Craig Whitlock  | October 1, 2010; 12:49 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, White House  
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