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The Senate Committees on Military Affairs; on the Militia; and Naval Affairs were established on December 10, 1816. The Committee on the Militia was merged with the Committee on Military Affairs in 1858 to form the Military Affairs and Militia Committee. However, in 1872 the Committee dropped "Militia" from its name. The Military Affairs and Naval Affairs Committees existed until 1947 when they were combined by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 into a new standing committee, the current Committee on Armed Services.
As specified in Rule XXV, 1(c)(1) of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee on Armed Services' has the following jurisdiction:
1. Aeronautical and space activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems or military operations.
2. Common defense.
3. Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force, generally.
4. Maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal, including administration, sanitation, and government of the Canal Zone.
5. Military research and development.
6. National security aspects of nuclear energy.
7. Naval petroleum reserves, except those in Alaska.
8. Pay, promotion, retirement, and other benefits and privileges of members of the Armed Forces, including overseas education of civilian and military dependents.
9. Selective service system.
10. Strategic and critical materials necessary for the common defense.
The Senate has also given the committee the authority to study and review, on a comprehensive basis, matters relating to the common defense policy of the United States, and report thereon from time to time.