The Pentagon says its top intelligence official, Michael Vickers, is retiring next month.

Vickers has been the undersecretary of defense for intelligence since March 2011. He has served in the federal government for four decades. During the 1970s and 1980s he served as a CIA operations officer and also was an Army Special Forces non-commissioned officer and an officer.

The Pentagon announcement Thursday said Vickers decided to retire to "take on new challenges" and to spend more time with his family.

The position of undersecretary of defense for intelligence was created in 2003 by then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Vickers is the third person to hold the office. His retirement is effective April 30.