PNSR Marks the 62nd Anniversary of the Signing of the National Security Act by President Harry Truman

July 26, 2009 in News by admin

WASHINGTON — July 26 marks a signal event in U.S. history, the signing of the National Security Act by President Harry S. Truman in 1947. World War II had ended and as the Cold War was beginning, President Truman and his advisors began laying the foundation for a national security system.

The 1947 act created the National Security Council to integrate the policies and procedures of the departments and agencies concerned with national security; established the precursor to the Department of Defense, unifying all military services under a single entity, and established, for the first time, a permanent peacetime intelligence capacity, the Central Intelligence Agency.

The framers of the ’47 act were visionaries who anticipated the national requirements for a Cold War strategy. What they established was right for the time, but 62 years later, the national security system is not only showing its age, recent catastrophic events have shown that the system is broken and the nation at risk.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has struggled to adjust to the 21st Century international security environment, characterized by complexity, uncertainty, and speed. The nature of this environment increasingly demands tight integration of national capabilities, yet the integrating mechanism remain weak and largely unchanged.

As the Guiding Coalition of the Project on National Security Reform notes in PNSR’s landmark report, Forging a New Shield, “The legacy structures and processes of a national security system that is now more than 60 years old no longer help American leaders to formulate coherent national strategy. They do not enable them to integrate America’s hard and soft power to achieve policy goals. They prevent them from matching resources to objectives, and from planning rationally and effectively for future contingencies. As presently constituted, too, these structures and processes lack means to detect and remedy their own deficiencies.”

As we mark the anniversary of the signing of the act that created the country’s national security system, PNSR calls attention to its recommendations for reforming the system (found at, see Forging A New Shield) which, if enacted, would institute a system that can manage and overcome the challenges of our times. The American people deserve nothing less.