National Security Act of 1947
As World War II ended, the United States had to decide what to do with regard to its Intelligence structure. Not wanting to relive another Pearl Harbor, and with the growing threat of the Cold War, the United States decided to establish an Intelligence agency that operated continually rather than only during times of war and conflict. The National Security Act of 1947 (signed by President Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1947) implemented a permanent, non-military, Intelligence agency called the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency that evolved out of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The CIA was not to be part of the military command structure, nor was it to have a domestic role or police power and was to be under the control of the newly established position of Director of Central Intelligence. In addition to creating the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Act of 1947 established the United States National Security Council (NSC). The National Security Council was composed of the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (now titled, Director of Central Intelligence), and other key members to advise the President on national security and foreign policy matters.
The National Security Act of 1947 also modified the structure of the United States military. The Act created the Department of the Air Force from the existing United States Army Air Forces as a response to the emerging significance of air power. In addition, the National Security Act merged the War Department and the Navy Department under one department known as the Department of Defense. Although Admiral James Forrestal and the Navy were originally opposed to having a unified Department of Defense, integration allowed for top-level coordination efforts between all three branches and provided a continuing voice for the military as the Secretaries of the three military branches were permanent members on the National Security Council.
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The National Security Act of 1947 (Pub.L. 80-253, 61 Stat. 495, codified at 50 U.S.C. ch.15) was an Act of Congress signed by President Truman on 26 July 1947, which realigned and reorganized the U.S. Armed Forces, foreign policy, and Intelligence Community apparatus in the aftermath of World War II. The majority of the provisions of the Act took effect on September 18, 1947, the day after the Senate confirmed James Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense. His power was extremely limited and it was difficult for him to exercise the authority to make his office effective. This was later changed in the amendment to the act in 1949, creating what was to be the Department of Defense.
The Act merged the Department of War and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment, headed by the Secretary of Defense. It was also responsible for the creation of a Department of the Air Force which made the Army Air Forces into its own service. Initially, each of the three service secretaries maintained quasi-cabinet status, but the act was amended on August 10, 1949, to assure their subordination to the Secretary of Defense. At the same time, the NME was renamed as the Department of Defense. The purpose was to unify the Army, Navy, and what was soon to become the Air Force into a federated structure.
Aside from the military reorganization, the act established the National Security Council, a central place of coordination for national security policy in the executive branch, and the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S.'s first peacetime intelligence agency. The function of the council was to advise the president on domestic, foreign, and military policies so that they may cooperate more tightly and efficiently. Departments in the government were encouraged to voice their opinions to the council in order to make a more sound decision.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff was officially established under Title II, Section 211 of the original National Security Act of 1947 before Sections 209–214 of Title II were repealed by the law enacting Title 10 and Title 32, United States Code (Act of August 10, 1956, 70A Stat. 676) to replace them.
The act and its changes, along with the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, were major components of the Truman administration's Cold War strategy.
The bill signing took place aboard Truman's VC-54C presidential aircraft Sacred Cow, the first aircraft used for the role of Air Force One.
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