Vickers oversees the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the combatant commands' and military services' intelligence components. "It was a natural evolution" to move from his former role as assistant secretary for special operations/low-intensity and interdependent capabilities, where he advised the Defense secretary on issues including counterterrorism and irregular warfare. A "historic experience" in his current job was helping to coordinate the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Vickers, 60, wants to assist the policy shift to Asia and foster "much closer integration" between defense intelligence and other U.S. spy agencies. The Los Angeles native completed his international-relations degree at the University of Alabama while he was in the Army Special Forces. Vickers, who was also a CIA operations officer in the 1980s, was the principal strategist for the paramilitary operation that drove the Soviet army from Afghanistan. The former high school football and baseball player decided he wanted an adventurous, international career after realizing he would not become a professional athlete. He attended the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and earned his Ph.D. in international relations at Johns Hopkins University. He was also senior vice president for strategic studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.