From the last page of the report of the independent review into the broader issues surrounding the loss of the RAF Nimrod MR2 Aircraft XV230 in Afghanistan in 2006 -
CHAPTER 29 – MILITARY COVENANT AND FINAL REMARKS
29.1 A sacred and unbreakable duty of care is owed to the men and women of the Armed Forces by reason of the fact that they are necessarily called upon to make substantial personal sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, in the service of the Nation.
29.2 Early manifestations of this duty are to be found as far back as Elizabeth I's reign in statutes providing for relief for sick or wounded veterans.
The Military Covenant
29.3 This duty has found modern expression in the term 'Military Covenant'. The Military Covenant is most commonly voiced, and understood, in the context of the care and support which should be given to wounded Service personnel returning from theatre and to service families who have suffered loss. The duty is, however, in my view, much wider than that, and embraces the whole panoply of measures which it is appropriate the Nation should put in place and sustain for Service personnel, including adequate training, suitable and properly maintained equipment, sufficient provisions in theatre and proper support and conditions for Service personnel and their families at home. This view of the Military Covenant finds eloquent articulation in the land domain in the Army Doctrine Publication of 2000 which provides not only that soldiers and their families should always be able to expect "fair treatment" and "commensurate terms and conditions of service", but also that the (unique) nature of land military operations means that that the Army "must be sustained and provided for accordingly by the Nation". 2 In my view, exactly the same rationale applies to the Navy and Air Force.
29.4 The acquisition and maintenance of modern military equipment is increasingly complex-technically, financially and logistically. The history of In-Service Support has seen a shrinking of the role of uniformed and Crown personnel and commensurately greater devolvement of responsibilities to, and reliance, on the Defence Industry. It is important, for the future, that all organisations involved in this endeavour recognise their collective responsibility to work together to ensure that the Military Covenant is never broken, as it was in the case of Nimrod XV230.