The principal forum used by the President for considering national security and foreign policy matters and is part of the President's Executive Office. Since its inception under President Harry S. Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies.
Signed by the President but drawn up and issued through the National Security Council, most Presidential directives are typically issued for matters specifically regarding national security policy, sensitive matters of foreign policy or during negotiation of international commerce and trade agreements among the many other reasons where a restricted or classified order is more appropriate for use. Different presidential administrations have used various names for these security-related documents but they generally all fall under the current day classification of a Presidential Directive. Most Administrations since Nixon have divided the overall purpose or function of their Directives into two general types; reviews or studies regarding National Security matters and decisions or policies which outlines the Nation's security strategy that the Executive has determined is appropriate for the Nation to follow.
Table of Security Directive Names and Abbreviations
National Security Council Intelligence Directives
Truman through Ford
National Security Action Memorandums
Kennedy and Johnson
National Security Study Memorandums
Nixon and Ford
National Security Decision Memorandums
Nixon and Ford
Presidential Review Memorandums
National Security Study Directives
National Security Decision Directives
National Security Reviews
National Security Directives
Presidential Review Directives
Presidential Decision Directives
National Security Presidential Directives
Homeland Security Presidential Directives
Presidential Study Directives
Presidential Policy Directives
* A release number is frequently substituted for the 'ID'