Thursday, June 13, 2024

This is an ARCHIVED article at baff.org.uk. Information and links may well be out of date.

The Military Covenant is a term introduced into British public life to refer to the mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces. The idea of a psychological contract between the nation and the serviceman is not new, but the term was coined with the publication by the Ministry of Defence of the booklet ‘Soldiering – The Military Covenant’ in April 2000, and has now entered political discourse as a way of measuring whether the government and society at large have kept to their obligations to support members of the armed forces.  The covenant has now been enshrined in the Armed Forces Act 2011 as the "Service Covenant", applicable to all three services.

The Military Covenant is the mutual obligation between the Nation, the Army and each individual soldier; an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility which has sustained the Army throughout its history.

Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices - including the ultimate sacrifice - in the service of the Nation. In putting the needs of the Nation and the Army before their own, they forego some of the rights enjoyed by those outside the Armed Forces. In return, British soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they (and their families) will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service.

In the same way the unique nature of military land operations means that the Army differs from all other institutions, and must be sustained and provided for accordingly by the Nation. This mutual obligation forms the Military Covenant between the Nation, the Army and each individual soldier; an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility which has sustained the Army throughout its history.

It has perhaps its greatest manifestation in the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, when the Nation keeps covenant with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in action.