In the past nine months, there have been little-noticed but important changes in the National Security Council (CNS) under the leadership of President Trump. The NSC has regained its historic and anticipated role, and key reforms have resulted in a significant series of national security achievements for the American people.
The National Security Council was established in 1947 to "advise the President regarding the integration of national, foreign and military policies related to national security." The word "advise" is important. While top council members – the defense secretary and secretary of state, for example, oversee executive branch departments that execute foreign policy – NSC staff in the White House advise the president and coordinate policy.
The National Security Council assists the President by ensuring that he receives the best views and options from various departments and agencies on any given issue. The final policies are, as they should be, then decided by the president, not the NSC staff or the national security adviser. Thereafter, the NSC ensures that departments and agencies actually execute the president's decisions.
This role of "honest broker" for the National Security Council was best implemented by General Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser during Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush administrations. The "Scowcroft Model" recognizes, and encompasses, the unique but necessarily modest place that the National Security Council and National Security Adviser occupy in the American national security architecture.
While some national security advisers have eschewed the Scowcroft Model and have tried to "get the NSC up and running" or to follow their own political agendas without regard to cabinet, the president and country are better served by NSC membership to your "honest broker" advisor. paper.
Before President Trump took office, NSC's policy staff grew dramatically in size. It became more bureaucratic and bloated, and began to resemble a miniature State Department, the Pentagon, and the Department of Homeland Security. In certain cases, over the past few years, NSC employees have even attempted to issue orders to our diplomats and military personnel. Under the leadership of President Trump, in the past nine months, we have restored the NSC to its historic mission, making it more efficient and effective.
First, we reduced the size of NSC's policy staff from nearly 175 in September 2019 to approximately 115 today. We hope to reach our final goal of 105 policy employees this fall. Our streamlining of staff has simplified decision-making and restored responsibility within the NSC.
Recent achievements were fueled by an NSC process that included departments and agencies, leading to firm presidential decisions.
As a historical reference, President John Kennedy's NSC served him with only 12 employees during the Cuban missile crisis. President Jimmy Carter's NSC was made up of 35 professional policy professionals. With two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ongoing, President George W. Bush's first term, NSC, had 100 policy staff members. However, under President Barack Obama, NSC's policy staff grew to more than 240 people.
President Trump's NSC team is now less than half that size. Having built an agile and agile organization, we are better positioned to deliver results. During this rationalization process we reached a historical milestone. Today, half of the 24 principal directors of the NSC are women. At a time when many public company boards are struggling to include more women as directors, President Trump is leading the way in the NSC.
Second, we have returned the effective process to the NSC. In President Trump's opinion, department and agency officials should meet, usually in person, to consider, debate, and debate the important issues and policies of the day. This process is dynamic and leads to better options and advice for the President.
To provide such thoughtful advice, develop options, reach consensus, and drive action, we need the right people in the room. Therefore, we require that the actual directors (cabinet secretaries and agency heads) attend the directors committee meetings. Its deputies must attend the deputies committee meetings. This protocol may not sound novel, but the practice had been abandoned for many years. Since September 2019, we have coordinated more than 130 meetings of the committee of directors and deputies on countless issues.
This month's punishment of International Criminal Court officials for attempting to prosecute, without any legitimate authority, the US military and women is just the latest result of an effective NSC process. The NSC brought together the Departments of State, Defense and Justice, and the intelligence community to develop recommendations to bring the President. He, in turn, issued an executive order that protects American sovereignty.
Other goals in recent months, such as taking ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi off the battlefield, restoring deterrence against Iran by attacking the Quds Force, and eliminating the respective leaders of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Algeria, Yemen and Syria all resulted from a robust NSC Process leading to decisive presidential action.
Furthermore, the United States signed a peace agreement in Afghanistan, withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty to which Russia was not adhering, enacted comprehensive policies to control China for the first time in 40 years, ended the US membership in the corrupt World Health Organization and brought home several hostages, including Xiyue Wang and Michael White from Iran and Professors Kevin King and Timothy Weeks from Afghanistan. President Trump also saved countless American lives with his early ban on foreign travel to the United States from China at the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
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Again, these accomplishments were driven by an NSC process that included departments and agencies, leading to firm presidential decisions.
Many of these presidential priorities had languished in the bureaucratic pipeline before President Trump's NSC reforms. President Trump's efforts have made the American people safer and our nation stronger.
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