New Atlanticist

Feb 11, 2020

Trump’s national security advisor touts new “streamlined” National Security Council

By David A. Wemer

Less than five months on the job, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien reported that the National Security Council was in the final stages of a reorganization that would get it “back to a manageable size.” O’Brien, who succeeded John Bolton as the assistant to the president for national security affairs in October, explained that he has led a “right-sizing” of the National Security Council which will bring its total number of staffers from 175 to 110 by the end of the month.

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Since its inception in 1947, under President Harry S. Truman, the  role of the National Security Council (NSC) has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policy matters. 73 years later, the range and complexity of national security threats which the NSC tackles is unprecedented. From autocratic great powers like China and Russia challenging the US’ liberal-democratic model, to global pandemics and crises brewing in the Middle East, the world is at a turning point not seen in a generation.

What do policy advisors and national security officials in NSC think are the key issues affecting the United States in the next decade? Is the institution ready to tackle the security challenges  ahead, and how does innovation in its organizational model allow it to better serve citizens?

Opening remarks by

Mr. Frederick Kempe
President and CEO
Atlantic Council

Introductory remarks by

Mr. Stephen Hadley
Former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (2005-2009)
National Security Council
Founding Principal
RiceHadleyGates LLC

Remarks by

Ambassador Robert O’Brien
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
National Security Council

Moderated by

Ms. Margaret Brennan
Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent
CBS News
Face the Nation