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According to an article written by O’Brien in The Washington Post, he detailed plans to reduce staffing at the agency from about 174 positions to 120 by early 2020.
“During the Obama administration, the NSC ballooned to well over 200 policy staffers. By comparison, a mere 12 NSC policy staffers helped President John F. Kennedy deal with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962,” O’Brien wrote. “With the president’s approval, we will reduce the NSC staff, making it more effective by reaffirming its mission to coordinate policy and ensure policy implementation. The NSC staff should not, as it has in the past, duplicate the work of military officers, diplomats or intelligence officers.”
In order to trim the fat, the NSA will consolidate duplicative roles with other agencies and eliminate current vacancies.
O’Brien said his goal is to bring the agency back to its historical mission of advising the president on matters relating to national security, in alignment with the president’s push for a “lean, efficient government.”
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton exited the post in September, saying he resigned on his own accord. President Trump at the time, however, said he had informed Bolton that his services were “no longer needed at the White House” and asked him for his resignation.
About a week later, Trump named O’Brien as Bolton’s replacement. O’Brien was instrumental in helping secure the release of rapper A$AP Rocky from Swedish prison earlier this year.
While Bolton and Trump are said to have had significant disagreements, O’Brien touted the administration’s accomplishments, including walking away from the nuclear deal with Iran, battling back the Islamic State, “using a firm hand with Moscow,” and exerting pressure on North Korea.