Harry S. Truman photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the National Security Act Amendments of 1949.

August 10, 1949

I HAVE today signed H.R. 5632, the National Security Act Amendments of 1949.

This legislation represents a major step toward more responsible and efficient administration of the military affairs of the Nation. It converts the National Military Establishment into a new executive Department of Defense, within which the former executive departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force are included as military departments. It gives the Secretary of Defense, under the direction of the President, direction, authority and control over the Department of Defense, appropriate to his responsibility as head of that Department. It provides for a Deputy Secretary and three Assistant Secretaries of Defense, and for a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assist the Secretary in carrying out his responsibilities. It provides for better financial management of the Department by requiring a "performancetype" budget, allowing greater flexibility in the control and use of funds, and establishing a Comptroller in the Department of Defense and in each of the military departments.

These provisions afford sound basis for further progress toward the unification of our Armed Forces and the unified management of our military affairs. I am very pleased that the legislation embodies most of the changes in the National Security Act which I have recommended to the Congress, and most of those recommended by the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch.

It is unfortunate that in this generally progressive legislation at least one provision represents a backward step. New and cumbersome restrictions are placed on the membership of the National Security Council-whereas the desirable course would be to follow the recommendation of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch and remove the statutory restrictions on the Council's membership.

This legislation as a whole represents a great advance. Action will be taken under it, both immediately and in the long run, to achieve increased efficiency and economy and greater coordination of our military forces. I believe that this act will permit us to make real progress toward building a balanced and effective national defense.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 5632 is Public Law 216 Stat. 578).

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the National Security Act Amendments of 1949. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229838

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