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Vickers Predicts “Painful Choices”: Michael Vickers, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities, told attendees Tuesday at AFA's Air & Space Conference that all the services will have to balance their recapitalization wants with new needs. Services will have to make “painful choices” about what areas they will make investments in, as old platforms will go away or evolve. He highlighted the evolution of surface attack as an example, saying that the mission will slowly shift from a predominantly fighter force to a bomber force in the future (both manned and unmanned). Vickers also anticipates the buildup of special operations forces to continue through the next Administration as it has become a “major growth stock” in DOD since 2001. SOF priorities for the near-term include acquiring rotary wing airlift assets that can operate at high altitudes and getting more capability in civil affairs and psychological operations. Vickers said that platforms like the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft will be immensely helpful At the same time, he said, SOF assets need to maintain their ability to support conventional military campaigns as well, not just counterinsurgency efforts.