The Chiefs of Staff and the Higher Organisation for Defence in Britain, 1904–1984

  • John Gooch
Part of the St Antony's book series


The British chiefs of staff system first came into existence as part of a package of reforms designed to create a higher organisation for defence. Governments of the late nineteenth century increasingly felt the need to provide their service ministers with a spectrum of expert professional advice. As the Great Powers jockeyed with one another around the globe, they also grew aware of the need for specialised government machinery with which to consider defence policy. In Britain the customary solution to problems of coordination and of providing information across departmental boundaries was to create a committee of the Cabinet.1 Thus, after some experimentation, the Committee of Imperial Defence (CID) was born in 1902: a cabinet committee presided over by the Prime Minister, with flexible membership, which could discuss pressing defence issues of the day.


Prime Minister High Organisation General Staff Service Minister Military Policy 
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Copyright information

© John B. Hattendorf and Robert S. Jordan 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Gooch

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