National Security Forum wraps up with National Security Council discussion

Autumn Sanders

On Friday, the two-day Herzstein Texas National Security Forum closed with a panel on presidential transitions in the upcoming election.

The panel took place at the LBJ Presidential Library and included a variety of experts on national security with government experience.

The panel kicked off with a discussion about the National Security Council, a group that acts as the U.S. president’s aid in making foreign and national security policies, and it’s role in the next president’s administration. Meghan O’Sullivan, former special assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor, said the NSC is especially important during times of conflict.

“Certainly in times of conflict or war, there is coordination to be done,” O’Sullivan said. “We all know that today’s conflicts can’t be solved with just diplomacy, or just military force, or just economic assistance. When all that coordination needs to be done, I think there’s a special role for the NSC.”

Points of discussion included highlights of past administrations that the next president should consider in their first days in office. Joshua Bolten, former White House chief of staff, said the new administration must learn proper delegation skills.

“[In the Bush Administration], we established early on as a principle that every issue that requires White House attention should have a home, but only one home,” Bolten said. “President Bush was able to spread the culture that the chief of staff gets to decide which entity in the White House has responsibility for an issue.”

Julianne Smith, former deputy national security advisor to the vice president, drew upon her own White House experiences to express the importance of national security and its change over time. 

“The world has changed in really dramatic ways since the National Security Council was created in the late 1940s,” Smith said. “And on top of the way in which the world has changed, I think America’s position in the world has changed as well. It’s more challenging to shape outcomes.”

Students who attended the forum cited its variety of guests as a way to get broad perspectives on the issues facing our nation.

“The Texas National Security Forum is an excellent resource that few outside of D.C. get to enjoy,” said Hannah Bolton, an Asian studies and international relations and global studies senior. “I walk away understanding and recognizing many more challenges that face our security community, from homegrown terrorism to military relations.”