National Security Council Structure and Functions


Unlike his predecessors, President Nixon relied heavily on both his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, and the National Security Council (NSC) for guidance on foreign policy decisions.

NSC Members

During the Nixon Administration, the members of the NSC included the:

  • President
      Richard M. Nixon (1969 - 1974)
  • Vice President
      Spiro T. Agnew (1969 - October 1973)
      Gerald R. Ford (October 1973 - 1974)
  • Secretary of State
      William P. Rogers (1969 - September 1974)
      Henry A. Kissinger (September 1973 - 1974)
  • Secretary of Defense
      Melvin R. Laird (1969 - 1973)
      James R. Schlesinger (1973 - 1974)
  • Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness (Office was abolished by Reorganization Plan I of 1973.)
      George A. Lincoln (1969 - 1973)

NSC Officials

During the Nixon Administration, the officials of the NSC were:

  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
      Henry A. Kissinger (1969 - 1974)
  • Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
      Alexander M. Haig, Jr. (1969 - January 1973)
      Brent Scowcroft (April 1973 - 1974)
  • Staff Secretary
      Richard M. Moose (1969 - 1970)
      William Watts (1971 - 1972)
      Jeanne W. Davis (1972 - 1974)


President Nixon maintained a close relationship with his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger. Dr. Kissinger increased the size of the NSC staff from 12 to 34. Dr. Kissinger set NSC agendas, set up inter-departmental working groups to prepare for NSC directives, created the NSC Review Group and issued National Security Study Memoranda (NSSM) and National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDM) which set forth needs for inter-agency policy papers.  [See Also:  Henry A. Kissinger Office Files Collection]

Dr. Kissinger also set up and chaired six NSC-related committees:

  • the Senior Review Group
  • the Washington Special Actions Group
  • the Verification Panel
  • the 40 Committee
  • the Intelligence Committee
  • the Defense Program Review Committee

Under Dr. Kissinger's direction, the NSC also took over the responsibility of clearing policy cables to overseas posts. He regularly participated in discussions with foreign state visitors and conducted important business directly from his office. The White House became the foreign policymaker, greatly reducing the Department of State's participation. In September 1973, President Nixon appointed Henry Kissinger Secretary of State, replacing William Rogers. Dr. Kissinger thus became the first and only individual to serve simultaneously as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.  [See Also:  Henry A. Kissinger Office Files Series Descriptions]