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Class Year

2009

Abstract

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Dwight D. Eisenhower’s remarks at a conference on National Defense in 1957 reflected the philosophy behind his national security system: his dedication to preparation and proper planning. One of Eisenhower’s most regularly used, structured tools for proper planning was the National Security Council (NSC). The Council was an organization comprised of high-ranking members of government, chaired by the president, which was designed to provide the president with the information and coordination needed to shape intelligent policy. The Council itself was not created by Eisenhower, but was part of the National Security Act of 1947, along with the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Council’s stated goal was “to provide for the establishment of integrated policies and procedures for the departments, agencies, and functions of the Government relating to the national security.” The National Security Act was flexible; it provided presidents with great discretion in operating the council. Eisenhower crafted the NSC for his needs. In the words of Eisenhower’s first Special Assistant for National Security, Robert Cutler, “Eisenhower wished the council mechanism made over into a valuable tool for his constant use.”

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