Sunday, July 21, 2024

British Armed Forces Federation - BAFF - is the unofficial, independent, all-ranks staff association for regular, reserve and former UK forces personnel.

BAFF is completely independent of the Ministry of Defence, and its mission is to represent its members in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the British Army and the Royal Air Force, including the reserves.

BAFF is already providing a "surprisingly influential voice" for its members in the British military community, and is now campaigning for full acceptance of the principle of appropriate representation for HM Forces personnel. The right of UK service personnel to join and take part in the Federation has already been accepted.

Membership open to all ranks, regulars or reserves, serving or retired

Legally constituted as a not-for-profit membership-based company, BAFF is an independent all-ranks professional staff association for British forces personnel. Membership is open to everyone serving in any branch of the UK military - Royal Navy and Royal Marines, British Army and Royal Air Force - regulars and reserves.

Former members of these services are also very welcome. The main BAFF focus is on the needs of current serving personnel, but we also value the participation of retired personnel, because so many issues don't neatly end at the barrack gate. The majority of current members and registered supporters are currently serving.

Independent, legal, non-political, not a union

The British Armed Forces Federation has no political affiliation and is completely independent of HM Government, the Ministry of Defence and the service chains of command.

While BAFF is non-statutory and claims no special recognition, Service Authorities and Defence Ministers have confirmed that serving individuals are allowed to join and to be individually represented by such an organisation.

BAFF is a professional staff association for British sailors, British soldiers and British air personnel. It is not, and does not aim to be, an armed forces trade union. (For more about that, see 'Armed Forces Trade Unions?')

BAFF never claims to represent anyone other than its own members.

"Do fighting troops have federations?"

Field Marshal Lord Inge asked in the House of Lords "Whether those [armies] who have federations and unions have ever won?"

In fact, several allied nations have robust, effective armed forces with some form of recognised and accepted representative staff association. These nations include:

  • DENMARK - representation includes Haerens Konstabel og Korporalforening (HKKF) - Army Enlisted and Corporals' Association - a registered trade union.
  • AUSTRALIA - Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) - a recognised "intervener" with the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal - further proof that representation is not (as opponents have argued) incompatible with a body like the UK's Armed Forces Pay Review Body. The DFWA says "We exist simply to foster the best interests and welfare of all members of the Australian Defence Force and their families in any matter likely to affect them during or after their period of service."
  • UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) is another highly successful form of military association with a wide range of non-unionised functions, including collective advocacy and representation to Congress and the Department of Defense. "AUSA is the Army's professional association, the voice for the Army on Capitol Hill, and offers support for soldiers and their families." AUSA is also described as "a private, non-profit organization that acts primarily as an advocacy group for the United States Army". There are several other representative membership organisations for different rank ranges and branches of the US regular and reserve forces.

So representation takes different forms in these three distinctive Allied countries.

But the common factors include representation at one or more official level, some form of recognition or status, and proven military robustness on operations.

As with the national differences between Denmark, Australia and the USA, there are, of course, significant differences in the British situation, including legal and constitutional differences, and the irreplaceable value of existing British charities and institutions. We also have the Armed Forces Pay Review Body and now (since 2015, after campaigning by BAFF and others against heavy-duty opposition at the time) the Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces.

A British federation to represent British armed forces personnel

While it has good relations with a number of representative military associations in Europe, the British Armed Forces Federation was designed by British serving and ex-service personnel to be a British solution for our forces personnel.

While robustly and sometimes controversially independent, the British Armed Forces Federation conducts itself as "friendly forces" in relation to the UK defence community including, of course, personnel of all ranks who are not members.

While it would be failing in its duty if it treated its members' interests as in all things identical with the employer's, BAFF aims to "operate usefully, and in harmony with the chain of command". (Official Bett Review for MoD, 1995).