Administration

Trump adviser lays out plans to slash national security staff

President Trump's new national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, plans to cut staff at the National Security Council (NSC) by more than 50 positions by the start of next year.

O'Brien, tapped by Trump to replace John Bolton last month, laid out his plans in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, saying he would reduce NSC staff from 174 policy positions to "well under 120" by early 2020.

O'Brien said the staff reduction is part of his plan to return the council to the traditional role of coordinating U.S. foreign policy across departments and agencies.

"The NSC staff at the White House was intended to coordinate policy rather than run it. My job as the national security adviser is to distill and present to the president the views and options that come from the various departments and agencies," O'Brien wrote. "The NSC then ensures that those agencies actually execute the president's decisions."

O'Brien said that he plans to begin reducing NSC staff by eliminating current vacancies and consolidating positions that the White House determines to be duplicative.

O'Brien also said he will combine some of the directorates at NSC that "duplicate" other offices at the White House and prioritize directorates that are organized based on geographic regions of the world. He said that the international economics team will now fall under the purview of White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

He said that most of those serving on the NSC staff, including individuals on detail from other areas of the federal government, will finish out their "standard tour of duty."

O'Brien said he consulted "several" of his predecessors in making the decision and received Trump's approval before moving forward with the changes.

"Rightsizing the NSC staff reflects the president's vision for a lean, efficient government that is focused on the core national interests of the United States," O'Brien wrote.

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