National Security Advisor (United States)

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Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Susan Rice, official State Dept photo portrait, 2009.jpg
Susan Rice

since July 1, 2013
Executive Office of the President
Appointer The President of the United States
Formation 1953
First holder Robert Cutler
Website The White House

The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor (abbreviated NSA, or sometimes APNSA or ANSA to avoid confusion with the abbreviation of the National Security Agency), is a senior official in the Executive Office of the President who serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues. This person also participates in the meetings of the National Security Council. The National Security Advisor's office is located in the West Wing of the White House. This person is supported by the National Security Council staff that produces research, briefings, and intelligence for the APNSA to review and present either to the National Security Council or directly to the President.

The current Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs is Susan Rice, who assumed the role on July 1, 2013.[1]


The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) is appointed by the President without confirmation by the United States Senate. However, the APNSA is a staff position in the Executive Office of the President and does not have line authority over either the Department of State nor the Department of Defense, but is able, as a consequence thereof, to offer advice to the President independently of the vested interests of the large bureaucracies and clientele of those departments, unlike the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense who are Senate-confirmed officials with line authority over their departments.

The influence and role of the National Security Advisor varies from administration to administration and depends heavily on the qualities of the person appointed to the position. In times of crisis, the National Security Advisor operates from the White House Situation Room, updating the President on the latest events of a crisis.


The National Security Council was created at the start of the Cold War under the National Security Act of 1947 to coordinate defence, foreign affairs, international economic policy, and intelligence; this was part of a large reorganisation that saw the creation of the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency and the separation of the US Air Force from the US Army.[2][3] In 1949 it became part of the president's executive office.[2] Robert Cutler became the first National Security Advisor in 1953. The system has remained largely unchanged since then, particularly since Kennedy's time, with powerful National Security Advisors and strong staff but a lower importance given to formal NSC meetings. This continuity persists despite the tendency of each new president to replace the advisor and senior NSC staff.[2]

Henry Kissinger, President Richard M. Nixon's National Security Advisor, enhanced the importance of the role, controlling the flow of information to the President and meeting him multiple times per day.[2][3]

List of National Security Advisors[edit]

# Picture Name Term of Office[4] President(s) served under
Start End
1 No image.svg Robert Cutler March 23, 1953 April 2, 1955 Dwight D. Eisenhower
2 No image.svg Dillon Anderson April 2, 1955 September 1, 1956
3 No image.svg William H. Jackson September 1, 1956 January 7, 1957
4 No image.svg Robert Cutler January 7, 1957 June 24, 1958
5 Gordon Gray - Project Gutenberg etext 20587.jpg Gordon Gray June 24, 1958 January 13, 1961
6 McGeorge Bundy.jpg McGeorge Bundy January 20, 1961 February 28, 1966 John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson
7 Walt Rostow 1968.jpg Walt W. Rostow April 1, 1966 January 20, 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson
8 Henry Kissinger.jpg Henry Kissinger January 20, 1969 November 3, 1975 Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford
9 Brent Scowcroft.jpg Brent Scowcroft November 3, 1975 January 20, 1977 Gerald Ford
10 Brzezinski 1977.jpg Zbigniew Brzezinski January 20, 1977 January 21, 1981 Jimmy Carter
11 Richard V. Allen.jpg Richard V. Allen January 21, 1981 January 4, 1982 Ronald Reagan
12 William patrick clark.png William P. Clark, Jr. January 4, 1982 October 17, 1983
13 Robert Mcfarlane IAGS.jpg Robert McFarlane October 17, 1983 December 4, 1985
14 Admiral John Poindexter, official Navy photo, 1985.JPEG John Poindexter December 4, 1985 November 25, 1986
15 Frank Carlucci official portrait.JPEG Frank Carlucci December 2, 1986 November 23, 1987
16 Colin Powell 2005.jpg Colin Powell November 23, 1987 January 20, 1989
17 Brent Scowcroft.jpg Brent Scowcroft January 20, 1989 January 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush
18 Anthony Lake 0c175 7733.jpg Anthony Lake January 20, 1993 March 14, 1997 Bill Clinton
19 SandyBerger.jpg Sandy Berger March 14, 1997 January 20, 2001
20 Condoleezza Rice cropped.jpg Condoleezza Rice January 22, 2001 January 25, 2005 George W. Bush
21 Hadleybio.jpg Stephen Hadley January 26, 2005 January 20, 2009
22 James L. Jones.jpg James Jones[5] January 20, 2009 October 8, 2010 Barack Obama
23 Thomas Donilon.jpg Tom Donilon[6] October 8, 2010 July 1, 2013[7]
24 Susan Rice, official State Dept photo portrait, 2009.jpg Susan Rice[7] July 1, 2013[7] present


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d George, Robert Z; Harvey Rishikof (2011). The National Security Enterprise: Navigating the Labyrinth. Georgetown University Press. p. 32. 
  3. ^ a b Schmitz, David F. (2011). Brent Scowcroft: Internationalism and Post-Vietnam War American Foreign Policy. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 2–3. 
  4. ^ "History of the National Security Council, 1947-1997". National Security Council. White House. August 1997. Archived from the original on 2008-03-06. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  5. ^ "Key members of Obama-Biden national security team announced" (Press release). The Office of the President Elect. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  6. ^ "Donilon to replace Jones as national security adviser". CNN. October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  7. ^ a b c Scott Wilson and Colum Lynch (June 5, 2013). "Tom Donilon resigning as national security adviser; Susan Rice to replace him". Washington Post. 

External links[edit]