National Security Act of 1947

The National Security Act of 1947 (Pub.L. 80-253, 61 Stat. 495, enacted July 26, 1947) was a law enacting major restructuring of the United States government's military and intelligence agencies following World War II. The majority of the provisions of the act took effect on September 18, 1947, the day after the Senate confirmed James Forrestal as the first secretary of defense.[1][2]

National Security Act of 1947
Long titleAn Act to promote the national security by providing for a Secretary of Defense; for a National Military Establishment; for a Department of the Army, a Department of the Navy, a Department of the Air Force; and for the coordination of the activities of the National Military Establishment with other departments and agencies of the Government concerned with the national security.
Enacted bythe 80th United States Congress
EffectiveSeptember 18, 1947
Public lawPub.L. 80–253
Statutes at Large61 Stat. 495
Titles amended50 U.S.C.: War and National Defense
U.S.C. sections created50 U.S.C. ch. 15 § 401
Legislative history

The act merged the Department of the Army (renamed from the Department of War), the Department of the Navy, and the newly established Department of the Air Force (DAF) into the National Military Establishment (NME).[3] The act also created the position of the secretary of defense as the head of the NME[3] It established the United States Air Force under the DAF, which worked to separate the Army Air Forces into its own service.[3] It also protected the Marine Corps as an independent service under the Department of the Navy.[3] Aside from the unification of the three military departments, the act established the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, the latter of which is headed by the Director of Central Intelligence.[3]

The legislation was a result of efforts by Harry S. Truman beginning in 1944.[4] President Truman proposed the legislation to Congress on February 26, 1947.[5] The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 28, 1947, and in the Senate on March 3, 1947.[6] Senator Chan Gurney was the bill's sponsor.[6] Senator Gurney, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, led committee hearings for the bill from mid-March to early May.[7][8][9] The bill passed in the Senate on July 9, 1947, and in the House on July 19, 1947.[10] The Senate agreed to a related House resolution (80 H.Con.Res. 70) on July 16, 1947.[10] The bill received bipartisan support and was passed in both chambers by voice vote.[4][10] The National Security Act of 1947 was signed into law by President Truman on July 26, 1947, while aboard his VC-54C presidential aircraft Sacred Cow.[11]

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