Coffee and Conversation with The Hon. Michael Vickers

June 29, 2023 9:00 AM to 9:45 AM Virtual

On Thursday, June 29, INSA hosted the Honorable Michael Vickers, former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, for a virtual Coffee and Conversation with Letitia A. Long, Chairwoman, INSA Board of Directors.

The conversation focused on Mr. Vicker’s recently released memoir, By All Means Available - Memoirs of a Life in Intelligence, Special Operations and Strategy. The program kicked off with a discussion about the writing process with Mr. Vickers noting that in the four years after he left public office, he had taken notes and often reflected on his career. However, it was COVID that provided the spark to finally sit down and write the book.

Mr. Vickers then delved into career highlights. He noted that during his 10 years in special forces, he experienced two very different theaters, with two very different missions. The first half was focused on the European area of operations, and the second was focused on Latin/South America. After his time in uniformed service, Mr. Vickers transferred to the CIA, where he immediately participated in the American invasion of Grenada, wearing “a Ralph Lauren polo and linen shorts”. During his time at the CIA, he served as the program manager for the American support of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, among other noteworthy career milestones.

Mr. Vicker also spoke to contemporary issues, discussing how Ukraine has shaped the future of U.S. warfare, as well as his perspective on how policy should address China’s emergence as a competitor. He also drew attention to the Defense Industrial Base and its critical importance in modern conflict. He identified Space and Cyber as the critical, global domains for competition with China, and specified that deterring major conflict does not mean winning the cold war, but that the winner of the cold war will be decided by other things, such as strategic competition.

In closing, Mr. Vickers gave advice for aspiring intelligence professionals, recommending they “find something you love and something that you can make a difference a,t” and then discover a broader world after you’ve achieved expertise in that area.