The Military Covenant – A serious Question.


The Military Covenant – A serious Question.

Much has been heard of late in the media about The Military Covenant and whether current experiences have resulted in this Covenant being ‘broken’ rather than merely ‘severely dented’ so I raise a serious question.

To what purpose is The Military Covenant and how credible is it?

It was laid down as a contract or covenant under Wellington in the 19th Century to forge an unbreakable agreement between the fighting man and the Nation.

So, if it is deemed that the political echelon has broken or irreparably damaged The Military Covenant – then what?

What are the proscribed penalties or consequences for shattering The Military Covenant if any?

Who would officially determine that The Military Covenant has been irreparably broken and therefore the bond between the political echelon and the Armed Forces has ceased and what then?

What censure can be brought to bear on a political echelon that has broken faith in the areas of ‘esprit de corps’ and the Regimental system, terms of service and conditions, remuneration, military hardware, housing, families welfare, medical facilities and care and a lot more besides?
The short answer is no one. It is not a contract enforceable by law and relies on good will if there is any. What needs to be written is a proper contract of service for all service personnel which is enforceable in law.


Great question Skynet and one I would appreciate some info on.


Soldiering - The Military Covenant

Here are some extracts from The Military Covenant, used as a template against current experiences, the question arises as to whether The Military Covenant has been ‘broken’ rather than ‘dented’ and if broken, what then?


The country expects soldiers to be available at any time, to go anywhere and to carry out a wide variety of potential missions in support of government policy, often as the last resort.

Such capability requires good equipment, organisation, training and leadership, and above all, soldiers with high degrees of personal and collective commitment, self-sacrifice, forbearance and mutual trust.

British soldiers must know that what they are called upon to do is right as well as militarily achievable, and has the support of the nation, society and the government.


0103. 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 forgo 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 and its soldiers throughout its history.


It is a fundamental tenet of British military doctrine that the Army should be organised, trained and equipped first and foremost for war.

By preparing to fight, the prospect of success across the full range of operations is enhanced. The reverse is not true. This is why the Army defines military effectiveness as Fighting Power. Fighting Power has three components: Conceptual, Physical and Moral. The Conceptual Component is the thought process behind the ability to fight. This is expressed in Military Doctrine.

The Physical Component is the means to fight, and it comprehends the main elements of Combat Power - the resources to be employed in combat.


0107 . "Soldiers universally concede the general truth of Napoleon’s much-quoted dictum that in war ‘the moral is to the physical as three is to one’.

The actual arithmetical proportion may be worthless, for morale is apt to decline if the weapons are inadequate, and the strongest will is of little use if it is inside a dead body.
But although the moral and physical factors are inseparable and indivisible, the saying gains its enduring value because it expresses the idea of the predominance of moral factors in all military decisions.

On them constantly turns the issue of war and battle. In the history of war, they form the most constant factors, changing only in degree, whereas the physical factors are different in almost every war and every military situation."

0108. The Moral Component has three fundamental elements: the motivation to achieve the task in hand; effective leadership from those placed in authority; and sound management of all personnel and resources. Together they produce the will to fight.


If it is to recruit the right soldiers, the Army must deliver its responsibilities in the Military Covenant, demonstrating that it is technologically advanced; highly trained; second to none in the quality of its soldiers; based on merit and successful; and that the required high standards of mental and physical robustness, discipline, impartiality, integrity and loyalty are justly rewarded.

This requires not only a clear vision of the demands of future operations, but also a genuine understanding of current pressures on society in general and soldiers and their dependants in particular.


The application of any legislation to the Armed Forces must be assessed in terms of its impact on the Moral Component of Fighting Power, so that appropriate exemptions can be sought where necessary


The nation and the Army must fulfil their responsibilities in the Military Covenant, maintaining the morale and physical well-being of soldiers, their families and dependants. These are based on the core and enduring tenets of the British Army.


Success in such conditions depends above all on good morale which is the spirit that enables soldiers to triumph over adversity.

High morale is the basis for the moral superiority and dominance required for success on operations and triumph in battle.

In turn success fosters high morale. Morale is composed of many factors, including confidence in equipment, good training and sound administration; but ultimately it is bred of conviction in what is being done and confidence in those with whom and for whom it is being done.

"1. Of all the forces that influence the battle spirit of the soldier, his morale is the most important. It is therefore the first task of every commander, whatever his grade, to ensure that the morale of his troops is high.

2. Morale is a state of mind. It is that intangible force which moves men to endurance and courage in the face of hardship, fatigue and danger. It makes each individual in a group, without counting the cost to himself, give his last ounce to achieve the common purpose. It makes him feel that he is part of something greater than himself.

3. If morale is to be created or revived, still more if it is to be maintained over a long period - and the essence of morale is that it is maintained - it must be based on certain firm foundations. These foundations are.

a. Spiritual

b. Intellectual

c. Material

In that order of importance.

4. Spiritual first, because only spiritual foundations can stand real strain….the spiritual basis of morale is not so much religion in the strict acceptance of the word, as belief in a cause. The soldier must believe that the cause for which he fights is worthy of the sacrifices he is called upon to make.

It must, too, be part of the spiritual foundations of morale that every man in the Army, no matter what his task or location, feels that what he is and what he does really matters, and that it has a direct bearing on the result of the campaign.

He must feel that the honour of his regiment or unit, its great traditions are in his hands to maintain or mar. Thus will he gain self-respect, develop a sense of comradeship and welcome discipline.

5. Men are swayed by reason as well as by emotion. Morale must, therefore, have its intellectual foundations.

First, the soldier must believe that the object he aims at is not out of reach, but is attainable.

He must be confident that the organisation to which he belongs, his army, his division, his unit is efficient.

Above all he must have confidence in his leaders. By every means in his power the commander must gain and keep this confidence, not only by his decisiveness in action and his calmness in crisis, but also by allotting tasks in battle to his troops within their capabilities and thus building up a tradition of success.

6. The highest kinds of morale are often met when material conditions are at their worst; yet the material foundations of morale are important and no commander may neglect them.

Good administration will ensure a reasonable amount of leisure and comfort for troops not actually engaged in operations, and the highest possible standard of feeding and supply when in battle.

The rapid evacuation of casualties to well equipped hospitals, good mail facilities, however remote the theatre, and all measures to keep the soldier in touch with his home life are powerful aids to morale.

First-class chaplains of all denominations must be provided. Morale in modern war depends increasingly on equipment, especially on weapons…

7. Man is still the first weapon of war, and the morale of the soldier is the most important single factor in the war. If commanders by their own example and influence and through their subordinates build the morale of their men on these foundations, spiritual, intellectual and material, it will endure."


British soldiers must obey their orders confident that the ends, ways and means are right morally as well as militarily, not least because they will be increasingly exposed to external moral debate.

The chain of command, from the government downwards, is responsible for articulating and sustaining the morality and justice of the cause in question, based on the enduring ethos of the British Army, and the particular circumstances of each given operation.

Only on this basis of absolute confidence in the justice and morality of the cause, can British soldiers be expected to be prepared to give their lives for others.

This unlimited liability on the part of the individual in turn demands collective responsibility by the nation for the welfare of all servicemen and women, serving and retired, and their dependants.

This responsibility is articulated in the Terms and Conditions of Service, and discharged by the Ministry of Defence, Corps and Regiments, and service charities.


Conversely, soldiers of all ranks, and their families, must be certain that the Army and the Nation will treat them with loyalty as well as justice.

The system’s loyalty to the individual - its obligation in the Military Covenant - is manifested in justice, fair rewards, and life-long support to all who have soldiered.

Any change imposed on the ethos, or on the terms, conditions or codes of service, will affect military effectiveness and the attitude of the volunteers. Changing either will affect the output - the Fighting Power - which the nation wants.


The purpose of soldiering is deadly serious, but if volunteers are to join and stay, soldiering must be enjoyable and rewarding. The rewards of soldiering include remuneration and self-esteem.

0316. All of these mean that the Corps or Regiment is regarded as a family - the military community in which most British soldiers do all their operational service and which embraces and cares for them and their families and dependants literally until death.


The ethos of the Army is sustained by all soldiers doing their duty with an implacable will to succeed; accepting their grave responsibility and legal right to fight and kill according to their orders and their unlimited liability to give their lives for others; confident that in return the nation will look after them and their families. This mutual obligation is the essence of the Military Covenant.
That kind of sums up the antithesis of how the modern soldier is treated in this country.

If the government has so failed you, and in turn failed to uphold the "military covenant", is there then a good arguement for the BAFF? Is a federation the only option?


Skynet wrote. “The short answer is no one. It is not a contract enforceable by law and relies on good will if there is any. What needs to be written is a proper contract of service for all service personnel which is enforceable in law.”

So what we’re agreeing here is that in real enforceable terms, members of the Armed Forces do not even benefit from having a contract of employment that’s worth the paper it’s printed on and in addition they do not have redress to Employment Tribunals for breaches of contract like civilian employees do.

If as The Military Covenant states, that soldiers are unique in that they differ radically and considerably from their civilian counterparts as do their terms and conditions of service, then it’s high time that some legally enforceable clout was imported to an otherwise useless piece of history like the covenant.

Before the howls start, no, I’m not advocating a Forces Trade Union here, but a contract of substance upon which the parties to it can rely and the law can, if absolutely necessary, be called to adjudicate and arbitrate.

If, unlike any other employment our personnel are to be called upon to potentially work unrestricted hours, in extremely dangerous conditions where their lives are endangered and apart from their families for extended periods of time – then their pay and conditions should reflect that and they should be handsomely rewarded and financially comfortable.

They and their families should be entitled to rely on the promise contained within the covenant of sensitive first class care in housing allocation, clinical and psychological care, adequate schooling for their children.

If the deficiencies evidenced and exposed by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are to produce anything positive for service personnel, it should produce an enforceable contract of service – all the mealy mouthed political excuses are simply no longer sustainable or acceptable – If the politicians continue to excuse and stop their ears to the catalogue of genuine grievances and do little or nothing to correct them, they will merely sow the seeds of discontent deeper in the psyche that will eventually see radicalisation and a demand for some form of Trades Union!
I fear too say that this was first breached with options for change but the Bliar and liabour have finally broke the camels back.

They also seem to work too keep the gulf between the military and civilians as wide and disconnected as possible, the lack of support and understanding has been fostered by the divisive nature of the two operations that the government is seem as on a crusade insert 'voice of god / haliburton' as required.

I really don’t know who is going too change this and repair the 'Covenant' the we are fair and care tories, well I don’t believe that!! and they started this whole mess, (and don’t bother getting on the bandwagon sven liabour promised too change this and didn’t) will my MP is a liberal and a bloody good one for his Ward, I’m not sure that they could make a difference in either power sharing of a win at a reduced margin?

liabour well i never though i would say this but old liabour would be preferable to the slime encrusted weasel ridden ........... :shakefist: :shakefist: :shakefist: :shakefist: :shakefist:

I really just get stompy angry these days.


The Military Covenant is meaningless guff in this day and age. If it ain't signed for then it doesn't have to be done. Once upon a time the mere concept of the Military Covenant would have been enough. The politicians would have understood, because, they would have served or be connected in someway to the military. In a more militaristic age their careers, in many ways, would have been influenced more by a proper functioning military machine. Yet even they would never have enshrined into law, a Military Covenant.

Now, with no instinctive affinity to the idea of the Military, a Labour politician, AGC Eric not withstanding, resents the Military and its complicated needs. My god, it sits around for years doing nothing except killing recruits and costing a fortune, then when it is used, justifying its existence, it runs out of bog roll, its equipment is inadequate and costs even more. And they don't even vote labour. But what is worse for Labour is the ignominy of these stupid soldiers dieing and them being held responsible. Gosh, look, ya know, as a Prime Minister I shouldn't have to put up with relatives crying every time a soldiers dies. I told Mr President that I was prepared to pay the cost in blood for this war. And I am. So shut up. How am I supposed to soar like an Eagle if after every time I launch a war people complain that soldiers get killed. It's what they do......duh.

The problem with the Military Covenant as with all things institutional and conservative. They depend on the institutions continuing to deploy the people who know how it works. If you break the institutions then that complex piece of machinery, which took generations of acquired knowledge, military service, public school, life in the empire, will just break, get forgotten. Old Generals will wistfully talk about it, people will try to re-create it; like the Cargo Cult and it will be meaning less.

The Conservative party don't get off scot free. They are more likely to speak the language of the military and be their friend. But don't forget friends can only be sold. That dwindling batch, the misty eyed conservative who longs for the once great imperial military are like the Cargo Cult or like Nick Soames who love a good meal, great craic and will tell you how great you are.

Look to the future and not the past. Yes, there needs to be a Military Covenant of sorts. It must be modern, it must be for the entire nation. It must be legislated and enshrined in law. For good or bad the old institutions are gone. The Military is broken we just don't see it. It is like a ghost of the empire which refuses to shuffle off.
The problem with dead bodies left to rot is that they stink the place up. Bury the British Military, do us all a favour, and plant in its compost a new one. Something for the future. Another thread perhaps. "The New, New Model Army?”


STAB2ARABConverter Wrote. “That kind of sums up the antithesis of how the modern soldier is treated in this country.”

”If the government has so failed you, and in turn failed to uphold the "military covenant", is there then a good argument for the BAFF? Is a federation the only option?”[/b]

Outbursts? Surely Dannett as the effective head of the Armed Forces is ultimately responsible for all matters including personnel and their terms of service and conditions?

Surely the pay and conditions of his manpower, their moral, the welfare of their families, their housing conditions, the quality of the schooling of their children, the surgical and psychological support services – are all very critical matters that the General should be concerning himself with and not just for force and operational capabilities now and in the future.

Now – Something else that The Military Covenant speaks expressly into and that is in relation to command over and leadership of soldiers and can probably be best summed up by the following:

Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.

Perhaps here’s where the paths divide, for surely what Dannett was addressing was that awesome burden of responsibility for the physical and moral well-being of those who serve under his command.

The Chiefs of Staff would do well to pay attention to detail here,

It’s not about towing the line and not upsetting one’s political masters so that one will not feel the ice chill of isolation from acceptance within the higher circles of the establishment, concerns for one’s enhanced pension and the next accolade pinned on one’s chest by a grinning grateful Minister of State.

The privilege of commanding the finest army in the world brings with it an enduring duty of care and awesome responsibility to nurture it, preserve and protect it from recklessness and neglect and to become the advocate for appropriate equipment, pay and conditions of service for its personnel.


War Hero
The Military Covenant is a one-sided fiction that I never heard of until Gen. Dannat mentioned it. I hope it is officially dead and buried in the festering slum that is Selly Oak.

I propose that the army reverts back to the age-old renumeration schemes favoured by our past soldiers. Namely "To the Victors The Spoils."
This system worked well until war was nationalised in the 19th Century, and soldiers became mass target practice for machine guns. The army of India would not leave barracks until it's Prize Officers were in tow. It wasn't just the Royal Navy that got rewarded for success.
Can you imagine? "OK Men. If you capture the Al Faw Peninsular, you get the first years oil production revenue. No! Come back! We've got to wait for the Yanks..."
The nature of war has changed.The forces fighting the war are also changing. Consider the Private Military Companies. Big Boys soldiering. If they do well they are well paid. They make their own provision for bad luck and old age. How many of HM forces do you know who already have their own private medical cover. Top Tip; get some. As per usual the green army will follow the lead of UKSF. Slowly the Honourable Profession of Arms come into being. The old Covenant idea of herds of semi-trained losers led by thick rich kids will die out. I just hope we aren't all praying 5 times a day before that happens.
The MOD will want to retain the Covenant. They can trot out the idea whenever they wish to bullsh*t something. The general public - and, I uspect, many soldiers will think "Oh, that's all right then. The f**k up they mention here will be settled under the terms of that wonderful Covenant" They go back to their comfy chair and the soldier sinks back into the overflowing colostemy bag.


I pulled this definition off a Law website:

Term: covenant

A covenant was originally an obligation created by deed, which may be positive or negative in nature. That is to say, an obligation to do something or an obligation not to do something. THe word is now used as a reference to promises made in agreements supported by consideration. Covenants may be read a reference to a "promise".

Unfortunately the politicians prefer to read it as a promise. How many promises have they broken? :shakefist: As stated before unless we have something in writing stating that if either side does not comply then, unfortunately, no one can be held to account. The only way to make any impact is if people vote with their feet. The problem with that is that in the military you tend to have job security (unless you get injured) and in this day and age, more and more people look for that.

Unless Bliar's government has a big shake-up they are never going to change in the short or medium term.

The military covenant is indeed a promise, just like any other promise that the government wants to trot out.

It is a 3-way 'agreement' between the military, the state and society. Society pays their taxes which finances the military and offers up their young as manpower. In return, society can rest assured that they are protected from nasty foreign types who want to take our cosy way of life away. The military puts their bodies on the line so that the rest of society can happily bimble into their nice comfortable 9-5 jobs with little fear. The state ensures that tax are spent wisely, that the military does not grow too large or shrink too small, and chooses when and where to employ the troops to ensure that security continues.

Nice cosy little arrangement for the state, heh? It can use the military as a justification for taxing you to the bone, but also has the final say on how much gets spent, what and when to spend it and when to trot out the military.

Until society wakes up to how the state is misusing the military, it'll just get even worse. But clever old state (ie the Blair regime) make sure you employ the military in far off lands where they are out of the public eye!
Be certain that neither Bliar nor 'Gorgon' Brown will ever have considered the 'Covenant' and if they had they would have ignored it.

The Joint Prime Ministers are a disgrace to Great Britain and their treatment of our injured and wounded Armed Forces, as a result of their military adventures will not be forgotten by us the voters - nor will they be forgotten by historians.

(Legacies are determined and written by historians).


War Hero
Relax Isquared,

I see that the Great Helmsman has lost two more rats from his sinking ship, including mandleson- who is probably very well informed.
Forget what the historians make of Bliar, he's going to get bummed in the prison showers until his eyes bleed!
When he's gone this country will need a Joseph McCarthy type figure to get rid of all the stealth communists knocking around the govt. judiciary, BBC/media etc.
Some posts edited, some posts removed.

Gentlemen, I can't allow alleged remarks made in private and therefore in confidence, to be published here , for obvious reasons.

PTP, my apologies.

My reasoning in posting those comments was the good General had just presented his case for withdrawal from AFG, and was clearly forthright in his view. And while not made in front of the general public at the lecture, there were about 2-3 others around us while we were talking. I have little doubt that if challenged he would robustly defend his words, and hence my posting of them.


If the government has so failed you, and in turn failed to uphold the "military covenant", is there then a good arguement for the BAFF? Is a federation the only option?

If the military convenant is dead and the military are engaged in activities against the will of the eletorate, then the military are no better than a nationalised industry. Nationalised industries are more effective when privatised (except the railways) ergo the military should become a business in the private sector.

This would allow our 'Chief executives' to be able to negotiate binding contracts for particular invasions, public duties etc and include equipment and other terms into the deal.

Supply would meet demand, the Navy would quickly be insolvent due to a lack of customers and the Army manning crisis would disappear: 'You want to do Afghanistan? MMMmmm well I've got nothing until 2015 with that Iraq job on, any earlier and it will cost you. Are you sure? Well we would need to pay the boys extra. If you booked 5 years ago you could have benefited from our 5% discount offer'

The Army's political influence would increase as it would hold the purse strings as far as military procurement is concerned. The company would have benefits packages that include medical insurance etc. It would release the military from wasting time as a political lacky subject to endless dictats and actually allow it to fully focus on its core role.

Actually, the more I think about it the more I convince myself this is the way forward. :thumright:

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