A Brief History of the American Security Council

The American Security Council was formed in 1955, and the ASC Foundation (ASCF) was established in 1958. ASCF was originally known as the Institute for American Strategy. For over 50 years both organizations have focused on a wide range of educational programs which address critical challenges to U.S. foreign policy, national security and the global economy.

This effort included National Military Industrial Conferences in the 1950s and 1960s, National Security Leadership Seminars in the 1970s and 1980s, and the National Security Studies Program which is today conducted during the Fall Spring and Summer semesters. ASCF’s activities involve public policy analysis of numerous problems and opportunities confronting the United States. The Foundation addresses these concerns with regional and strategy programs.

The inspiration for ASCF developed from the National Military Industrial Conference which was held in 1957 at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago. Over 600 people attended and the response was so enthusiastic that it was decided to conducted these events on an annual basis.

The two key organizers were Dan Sullivan and Lenox R. Lohr, the former president of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Lohr was then serving as president of the Chicago Science and Technology Museum, and the next decade he would serve as the program chairman of these events. John M. Fisher, who was then a Sears and Roebuck employee, was also active in the early work of the new organization. His role is outlined in a separate section.

Financial support for the National Military Industrial Conferences was provided by Sears, Roebuck and Company, Motorola, Marshall Field=s, and Montgomery Ward’s. The conferences would not have been possibly without a $50,000 grant from the H. Smith Richardson Foundation. The fledgling group also received significant administrative support from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

A two week course organized in part by ASCF was held at the National War College in 1959. This was followed by 25 regional weekend seminars that were held across the nation. These seminars brought together leaders from business, government, education and labor unions. Many of the themes were compiled into an anthology of thirty-three essays entitled American Strategy for the Nuclear Age, which was published as a Doubleday Anchor Book.


The authors included such notables as former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Dr. Henry Kissinger of Harvard University, Dr. Walt Rostow, who would serve as the National Security Adviser to President Johnson, Hanson W. Baldwin, the Pulitzer Prize winning military correspondent for The New York Times; Dr. Albert Wohlstetter of the University of Chicago; Dr. Gerhart Niemeyer of the Notre Dame University, and Dr. Herman Kahn, the founder of the Hudson Institute.

The book was intended as a “master curriculum” for the regional and local seminars. The book was used for some years as a basic strategy text in higher education and as a reference work.

A major effort was launched in 1962 to develop a comprehensive and bipartisan national security strategy. This project was conducted with the assistance of the American Legion and the National Governor’s Association, and this became the well received Guidelines for Cold War Victory (which was first published in 1964).

ASC and ASCF have been credited many times with developing programs and strategies which were eventually adopted as the foreign policy and national security strategy of the United States. The theme of the above mentioned Guidelines for Cold War Victory was praised by former President Dwight Eisenhower in a national radio address he record at ASCF=s request.

The importance of ASCF’s outreach program for young people was acknowledged by President John F. Kennedy, and the recommendations made in its initial strategy studies were praised by Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford. The Foundation did not fully realize its impact on public policy until the various presidential libraries declassified correspondence and audio tapes many years later.

The National Military Industrial Conferences of the 1950s and 1960s evolved into National Security Leadership Seminars during the late 1960s. This was possible when ASC and ASCF relocated to northern Virginia. The Congressional Conference Center was opened in 1965. This 844 acre campus was located nine miles outside of Culpeper, Virginia, and it would serve as the headquarters for both groups from 1965 until 2001.

The Congressional Conference Center had all the features of a small college campus, and was visited by numerous national and international statesmen, as well as many members of the United States Congress. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the estate over 50 times when it was owned by Charles Marsh and Alice Glass.

The property was initially known as the Freedom Studies Center. Seminars began to be held at the facility in 1966. The programs continued to expand and the construction of a 28-bed dormitory was completed in May of 1972. This allowed ASCF to provide housing for 60 students or seminar participants in two dormitories.

A significant milestone for ASCF occurred in 1969. This was the establishment of a National Security Studies Program as part of the Pentagon Education Program.


The official launch of the National Security Studies Program was in March of 1977 when Georgetown University and ASCF established a program under that banner. At the same time the ASCF property became an off campus center for Georgetown, and the university emblem was displayed at the entrance of the estate. A Masters Degree program in International Security Affairs was jointly conducted by Georgetown and the Department of Defense, with the assistance of the ASC Foundation.

This was the only advanced degree-granting program in national security studies in the United States and Europe. The faculty was composed of experts in the field, and classes were held in the Pentagon on weekdays, and on several weekends at the LBJ Center. To obtain a Masters Degree the student had to be enrolled at Georgetown, and they had to meet the universities vigorous requirements.

National Security Studies Programs have now been established at Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Tufts, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, George Washington, the University of Chicago, the University of Georgia; the University of Illinois, the Army War College; the Industrial College of the Armed Forces; the College of Naval Warfare; the Naval Post Graduate School; the National Security Institute and the George C. Marshall College of International and Security Studies.

In addition to assisting the Georgetown program, ASCF continued to administer its own NSSP which was open to its membership. While the NSSP’s curriculum often changed, several key courses were always maintained. These included “Counterintelligence and Covert Operations” by James J. Angleton; the “U.S./Soviet Military Balance” by Generals George Keegan and Dan Graham; “Cuba’s Foreign Policy” by Dr. Herminio Portell Vila; “The United States in World Affairs” by Drs. Stephen Gibert and Loren Thompson of Georgetown University; “The Peace Through Strength Strategy” by Colonel Philip S. Cox; “Latin America’s Democratic Transition” by Colonel Samuel T. Dickens USAF (Ret); “Congressional Oversight in Defense and Foreign Policy” by Richard Sellers and Tony Makris; “Soviet Global Strategy” by Ambassador William Kintner and Col. Ray Sleeper;and “Arms Control and Verification” by Thomas B. Smith.

ASC and ASCF have produced seven television documentaries. The most prominent was The SALT Syndrome which was a critical analysis of the SALT II Treaty of the late 1970’s. This was shown in regional TV markets over 2,600 times.

ASCF’s National Strategy for Peace Through Strength of 1978 has been cited numerous times as providing the overall theme for the administration of former President Reagan. He was kind enough to personally give us credit for this on several occasions, and said America won the Cold War on this doctrine.


President Reagan spoke of its significance by saying: “One thing is certain. if we’re to continue to advance world peace and human freedom, America must remain strong. If we have learned anything these last eight years, it’s that peace through strength works.”

ASC and ASCF worked tirelessly to have the United States government publish an official National Security Strategy of the United States. The was first implemented by President Reagan in 1985, and all of his successors have been legally required to produce a similar document. The most recent was unveiled at West Point by President Bush on June 6, 2002, and it is referred to by the news media as the “unilateral” or”preemption” strategy.

Many of the recommendations in ASCF’s 1992 “Winning the Peace” strategy study have now been introduced in the U.S. Congress as the Winning the Peace Act. We do not know if President George W. Bush or officials of his administration reviewed our Forward Together strategy of the year 2000. We do know that practically all of its recommendations have already been implemented by the Bush Administration and with bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress.

The inspiration for President Bush’s Forward Strategy for Freedom can be traced back to 1962 and a book co-written by our late vice chairman Bill Kintner entitled A Forward Strategy for America. The book was primarily about the Soviet Union, but it recommended the use of force to stop genocide and promote democracy.

The 25th anniversary of Georgetown’s National Security Studies Program was held in 2001, and the University honored ASCF with an impressive plaque and presentation. The 25th anniversary of the NSSP was also a decision time for the ASCF Board of Directors.

Veteran Chairman John M. Fisher had often expressed his desire to step down from the many administrative burdens. The Congressional Conference Center was sold, and this led to an extensive property search. In large part due to the generosity of George H. Purcell, a Capitol Hill Student Center at 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue has now been established by ASCF.

While strategy development has always been one of our major tactics, the mission of the American Security Council and the ASC Foundation is to promote the necessity of maintaining military, economic and diplomatic strength. Diplomatic strength is often referred to as moral strength, and it emphasizes the importance of American values such as democracy and political and economic freedom. The United States is today the world’s only superpower, but our mission has nothing to do with promoting global dominance.


March 31, 2005 will mark the 50th anniversary of ASC, and ASCF will reach this milestone three years later. In reviewing the history of both organizations it is obvious that the groups have been very farsighted. This was emphasized by ASCF Chairman Robert H. Spiro, Jr., the former Under Secretary of the Army, during his address to our class of 2004:

I have been associated with the American Security Council and the ASC Foundation for over 20 years. From personal experience I know the founders, benefactors and strategists for these organizations are truly unique. These non-profits include conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, but they are always able to work together when America’s foreign policy and national security is at issue.

The mission of both groups has been sustaining and exporting the ideals of the United States: At home, we emphasize that American citizenship is a gift and a duty. To foster America’s goals abroad requires bipartisan United States leadership, as well as military, economic, diplomatic and moral strength. We refer to this as a Peace Through Strength Strategy. We also believe in “mobilizing for peace” which means staying engaged after a conflict is over.

<!–[if supportFields]>ADVANCE \d4<![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> We want the U.S. flag to stand not only for America’s power, but also for its ideals. That is why we emphasize the United States is not merely a country, but a cause and a principle.

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