Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

National Security Advisor (United States)

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Reports to  The President
Formation  1953
Appointer  The President
First holder  Robert Cutler
National Security Advisor (United States)

Constituting instrument  The post is defined by the current executive order defining the work of the National Security Council.
Deputy  Deputy National Security Advisor

The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor or at times informally termed the NSC advisor, is a senior aide in the Executive Office of the President, based at the West Wing of the White House, who serves as the chief in-house advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues.


The APNSA also participates in the meetings of the National Security Council and usually chairs the Principals Committee meetings with the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense (i.e., the meetings not attended by the President). The APNSA is supported by the National Security Council staff that produces research and briefings for the APNSA to review and present, either to the National Security Council or directly to the President.


The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) is appointed by the President without confirmation by the Senate. The influence and role of the National Security Advisor varies from administration to administration and depends not only on the qualities of the person appointed to the position but also on the style and management philosophy of the incumbent President. Ideally, the APNSA serves as an honest broker of policy options for the President in the field of national security, rather than as an advocate for his or her own policy agenda.

However, the APNSA is a staff position in the Executive Office of the President and does not have line or budget authority over either the Department of State or the Department of Defense, unlike the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, who are Senate-confirmed officials with statutory authority over their departments; but the APNSA is able to offer daily advice (due to the proximity) to the President independently of the vested interests of the large bureaucracies and clientele of those departments.

In times of crisis, the National Security Advisor is likely to operate from the White House Situation Room or the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (as on September 11, 2001), updating the President on the latest events in a crisis situation.


The National Security Council was created at the start of the Cold War under the National Security Act of 1947 to coordinate defense, foreign affairs, international economic policy, and intelligence; this was part of a large reorganization that saw the creation of the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1949, the NSC became part of the president's executive office. The National Security Act of 1947 did not create the position of the National Security Advisor per se, but it did create an executive secretary in charge of the staff.

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.

Henry Kissinger, President Richard 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. Henry Kissinger also holds the distinction of serving as National Security Advisor and United States Secretary of State at the same time from September 22, 1973, until November 3, 1975.

List of National Security Advisors


  Republican (16)   Democratic (8)   Independent (2)

Brent Scowcroft is the only person to have held the job in two non-consecutive administrations: in the Ford administration and in the George H. W. Bush administration. Robert Cutler also held the job twice, both times under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Henry Kissinger holds the record for longest term of service (2,478 days). Michael Flynn holds the record for shortest term of service (24 days).

  • Three and Four-Star Generals require Senate confirmation due to the statutory nature requiring Congress to appoint their military rank.
  • References

    National Security Advisor (United States) Wikipedia