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The New Organization of National Defense, chart accompanying the statement of Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson before the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Senate, March 18, 1947

Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson presented this chart to Congress, outlining a new organization for national defense during hearings on the National Security Act. The chart showed the restructuring of the military establishment, including the creation of a civilian secretary of defense. Amendments to the act in 1949 changed the name “National Military Establishment” to the Department of Defense.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

The New Organization of National Defense

The National Security Act

In the aftermath of World War II, Congress passed legislation to modernize the U.S. military and intelligence communities. Known as the National Security Act of 1947, the act merged the Army, Navy, and newly created Air Force into a unified National Military Establishment headed by a secretary of defense. It also created the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. By approving the act, Congress established an institution to coordinate U.S. defense policy throughout the Cold War era.

The experiences of the war just concluded have proven conclusively that we must maintain in time of peace an adequate organization of the national defense readily available to the needs of war on short notice.

National Security Act of 1947, House Report 80-961, 1947