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Trump downsizes the NSC

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President Trump is following through with his promises to “drain the swamp” and cut Obama-era holdovers from his staffs, especially the critical and recently controversial National Security Council.

The White House National Security Council (NSC) is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for consideration of national security, military, and foreign policy matters with senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Since its inception under Harry S. Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies.

The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies.Officials confirmed that Trump and national security adviser Robert O’Brien have cut 70 positions inherited from former President Barack Obama, who had fattened the staff to 200.

Of those many came from other agencies on a temporary basis to deal with specific concerns and now have been sent back. Several retired from government work.

The NSC, which is the president’s personal staff, was rocked when a “whistleblower” leveled charges that led to Trump’s impeachment.

Last week, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Trump at a House hearing on the Ukraine affair that led to impeachment was sent back to his position at the Pentagon. His twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman was also removed from the NSC and Yamiche Alcindor of "PBS Newshour" reported that Yevgeny Vindman was relocating to the US Army's Office of General Counsel based at the Pentagon..

Trump had expressed displeasure that Alexander Vindman had testified against him when the Ukraine specialist said he did not like the phone conversation between the president and a newly elected president of Ukraine. While the media boasts headlines about the unfair firing of Lt Col. Vindman, he was not kicked out of the military, only removed from an advisor position at the NSC. Both Vindman brothers will be working at the Pentagon.

Since entering the White House, Trump has relied on staffs smaller than previous administrations and has noted how prior president’s had a much smaller NSC team.

While the media claim outrage over the removals it shjould come as no surprise. O’Brien recently said that former President George W. Bush handled the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with 100 NSC aides, a model he is instituting. In fact, back in November as National Security Advisor, O'Brien stated on Face the Nation:

One of the things I talked about is that we’re streamlining the National Security Council; it got bloated to like 236 people from up from 100 in the Bush administration under President Obama. We’re streamlining the National Security Council.

There are people that are detailed from different departments and agencies. My understanding is that Col. Vindman is detailed from the Department of Defense. So everyone who’s detailed at the NSC, people are going to start going back to their own departments and we’ll bring in new folks.

But we’re going to get that number down to around 100 people, that’s what it was under Condoleezza Rice; she came and met with me, I met with a number of my successors [sic?].

We don’t need to recreate the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, over at the White House. We’ve got great diplomats and soldiers and folks that do that work for us in their departments.

“This month, we will complete the right-sizing goal Ambassador O’Brien outlined in October, and in fact, may exceed that target by drawing down even more positions,” stated John Ullyot, the NSC’s senior director for strategic communications.

One also needs to consider that following every election there are staff who retain their positions for continuity and for their expertise. In the case of the NSC, the President has the ultimate authority on who serves and who leaves.

And it is conveniently forgotten that president Obama removed 197 military officers from their positions including 9 Senior Generals

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