The Defence Committee was set up in 1870, under the presidency of the commander-in-chief. The deputy-director of works (fortifications branch) was secretary to the committee. Membership of the committee varied, but included at different periods the surveyor-general of the ordnance; first sea lord; adjutant-general; quartermaster-general; inspector-general of artillery; director of works; director of artillery and stores; director of naval artillery, and the deputy adjutants-general of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers.
After a number of years, secretaryship of the committee passed to the assistant inspector-general of fortifications, and remained so until 1891. In that year the Naval and Military Defence Committee was set up to consider and report upon the question of naval defences, following concerns voiced by Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon. The committee consisted of three naval and three military members: the first sea lord, the admiral superintending naval reserves and the assistant director of torpedoes; the adjutant-general, the inspector-general of fortifications and engineers and the director of artillery.
By 1903, the committee had amended its name to Joint Naval and Military Committee on Defence [JNMCD]. This Defence Committee - and its successors - should however not be confused with the Defence Committee created in 1895, which in 1902 became the Committee on Imperial Defence.
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