The Military Covenant

#1
I have placed this in the NAAFI because I want everyone to be able to comment in their own way about what is their covenant.

I am interested to hear whether people believe that the covenant exists beyond words on paper; whether they feel they are being treated fairly; whether they feel their families do receive appropriate levels of care and sustainment. Do you feel that 'an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility' exists between the state and ourselves?

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 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.
A small word of guidance (if I may). This is not a thread about 'how crap officers are' or anything similar. This is about ALL of us, sharing a common ethos, in the face of common foes.

Discuss.
 
#2
Good and relevant question. You might want to look at the concept of psychological contracts that civis talk about. There seems to be little difference between the two ideas, except that the army has actually expressed the Covenant formally in doctrine (ADP 5). The other issue, as I see it, is that the Military Covenant takes on a huge importance to us as soldiers because the official contract of employment doesn't exist in any form that civ's would recognise. Our Terms and Conditions of service are covered in a myriad of pulications - who has ever read them all? And if you did I bet you didn't before you signed on the line ! That means that not being totally sure of what of what the employment contract is leads to greater dependence on the unspoken/ unwritten contract = Covenant.

As Joyce said soldiers "have no legally enforceable contract regarding conditions of service; these conditions can be changed at will by senior management... and unlike civilians they have no right to leave the service immediately if they are not happy with the unnegotiated changes in their conditions of service" I would say that this makes the military Covenant even more important and logically it must still exist to counter act the poor employment contracts that we suffer. Whether it makes up for our "unlimited liability" that gen Hackett mentioned is the real question. Has it become unbalanced, are we offering up more than we are offered in return for the potential sacrifice. How much should we expect?
 
#3
I was thinking of nuns and I bet Im not the only one! :wink:
Definition
covenant [Show phonetics]
noun [C]
1 a formal agreement between two or more people; a promise:
The contract contained a restrictive covenant against building on the land.

2 UK SPECIALIZED a formal agreement to pay a fixed sum of money regularly, especially to a charity

covenant [Show phonetics]
verb [T]
5% of our profits are covenanted to charity.
 
#4
S P U N K

FCUK ME SLOPES THIS IS JUST SPUNK!
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
#6
This is straying dangerously close to the sort of territory - emotional and moral - with which Brits tend to be pretty uncomfortable.

I can't argue with any of that. Not really. It's interesting that one can hold all that in the hindbrain and still manage the healthy cynicism and general nastiness which is the main attraction of the Brit squaddie.

I'm now "ex" and have missed out on all the unpleasantness since '99 or so, but can imagine just how stretching things are for my old mates, given the dramatic upsurge in op tours and the equally dramatic downturn in respect and real support given by HMG. Between them, healthy cynicism (overt) and this code (covert and however articulated) are probably the main glue keeping a ridiculously overcommitted organisation going.
 
#7
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 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.
After a few moments of consideration (I have never seen this before) I see little evidence that this 'common bond' exists between the Army and anything that is currently known by the ethereal label 'nation'. After all, what exactly is meant by the nation? Is it the generally powerless population of this country who have the recollection, analysis and reasoning skills of an absent-minded goldfish? Or is it those who 'rule o'er us, in stately conclave met' who have already been found wanting in at least two of the key areas mentioned above?

If you try to make sense of the above by replacing 'nation' with 'state' then it is demonstrably meaningless not least because the state has neither a soul nor a conscience which would be prerequisites of this 'bond' which places such emphasis on. This is why the pleas of people like the Far East Prisoners of War fall on deaf ears. Sorry guys, Government has no soul.

Perhaps the test of the above statement lies in the first few lines -- we should
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.
Expecting it doesn't mean you're going to get it. Bit of a one-sided covenant if you ask me but a fair representation of the status quo.

...I'm also a little alarmed about the bit that says I 'will be called upon to make personal sacrifices - including the ultimate sacrifice'. I'd be happier with 'may' if its all the same to TCH. 8O
 
#8
SB

I'm not alone in thinking this is a one way thing then. I have no doubt that the Govt gets far more from us than we get from it.
The Military Covenant, is something I've always accepted (though I've never seen it written down until now) however I feel the "rewards" are sadly lacking these days.

If it wasn't for my fellow's in the messes and the crews I work with I would be tempted to remove my "green skin" forever.
 
#9
My tenpence worth (and sorry MDN if such talk offends you) is that this 'covenant' exists purely as abstract words on paper. We (the military) have values and ideals that are far removed from anything we see in general practice in our society. We understand concepts like 'integrity' and 'honour', even if we, being human, sometimes fall foul of our own exacting standards. Just look at the number of people who made comments similar to 'just admit it' on the S62 thread.

Whilst I don't find this lack of parity in any way unusual, I get slightly confused when we hear phrases like 'the Army is a reflection of the society it serves'. It is? God, I sincerely hope not. I hope that we inculcate our values and ideals into our new blood - values that will turn to outright cynicism over time - but at least we possess an understanding of them.

I think a more apposite question would be, 'Do we have the government we deserve?' The answer, by any meaningful analysis, must be 'No!' Is Buff aware that this convenant exists with his fighting men and women - or does he use it as an extra bit of leverage to get what he wants, without having to feel guilty about the total mess he leaves behind.
 
#10
I'm going to take issue with this.

We (the military) have values and ideals that are far removed from anything we see in general practice in our society. We understand concepts like 'integrity' and 'honour', even if we, being human, sometimes fall foul of our own exacting standards
but at least we possess an understanding of them.
Are you seriously asking me to believe that those in HM Forces have some kind of Holy Monopoly on values and ideals??!! Would that just apply to those in uniform - does it evaporate when you hand your kit in? Does the everyday uncommented and largely unrecognised sacrifices that ordinary people make not count? Are you telling me that "general practice in our society is so bad that it makes the "falling foul of your own exacting standards" just......pale into total insignificance?

Shall we ignore the higher instances of wife and child battering, the common or garden fighting/whoring/adultery/lying/cheating that I'm SURE even those paragons of virtue have occasionally indulged in...?

This thread is getting dangerously close to becoming one of those self-serving "God, we are such a superior quality human being to all those nasty, illiterate, sub-normal, amoral, vacuous civvies" diatribes.

Keep going - and bring it on.
 
#11
I've always found the Military Covenant an interesting thing. I may well be wrong, but I think the idea is very old but its only relatively recently been committed to doctrine.

The problem is that the qualities enshrined in the covenant - integrity, honour and above all, loyalty - all seem to be travelling on a one way street. I've used the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy' in another, unrelated. thread, but this is where it really comes into its own. More than any other organisation, the army is run by, and therefore for, those in command. And they suffer the same from those they serve, and so on, even unto the CDS and the politicos.

Ref the comment about the army reflecting the society it serves - well it does, but its a very distorted mirror, like the ones you used to get at fairgrounds.
 
#13
I have no problem with the concept of a military covenant and think the piece of doctrine quoted was beautifully written - I can also see why you think it is a one way street - but wasn't it always that way? Has there EVER been a time when soldiers were respected by the whole of society, treated humanely and generously by the Government of the day, held up paragons of virtue, the Mount Olympus of Ideals that all should aspire to?!!.......


eerrrrmmmm, that would be 'no' then......
 
#14
Sir Rowley Birkin QC said:
I've always found the Military Covenant an interesting thing. I may well be wrong, but I think the idea is very old but its only relatively recently been committed to doctrine.

The problem is that the qualities enshrined in the covenant - integrity, honour and above all, loyalty - all seem to be travelling on a one way street. I've used the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy' in another, unrelated. thread, but this is where it really comes into its own. More than any other organisation, the army is run by, and therefore for, those in command. And they suffer the same from those they serve, and so on, even unto the CDS and the politicos.

Ref the comment about the army reflecting the society it serves - well it does, but its a very distorted mirror, like the ones you used to get at fairgrounds.
The State breaches the "Covenant " daily.cynically and effortlessly.It is maintained only by the efforts of Idealists/Enthusiasts within the hierarchy who may find themselves supported or discarded at the whim of the politician.As a piece of smug gibberish,It is matched only by the infamous"Standards and Discipline Paper" of 1993

"When you put yourself on a pedestal-You put yourself in the dock"
 
#15
shortfuse said:
is that why Q.A's and the R.L.C. all look fat then rowley?
No, its because we eat immense portions of pie :wink:
 
#16
ADP 5 rewritten by Prodigal said:
God, we are such a superior quality human being to all those nasty, illiterate, sub-normal, amoral, vacuous civvies.
I like it! I'm not sure that it would have got past RO1 Author however. :D
 
#17
Prodigal said:
Has there EVER been a time when soldiers were respected by the whole of society
This is a bonk argument; the only thing that 'society' does with any degree of unanimity is breathe oxygen.

Prodigal said:
Has there EVER been a time when soldiers were...treated humanely and generously by the Government of the day
No, you are right and that includes Churchill. As I said before, Government has no soul.

Prodigal said:
Has there EVER been a time when soldiers were held up paragons of virtue, the Mount Olympus of Ideals that all should aspire to [by the by the Government of the day]?!!
Yes, but only when they are basking in reflected glory.

Prodigal, if you read Calypso's post carefully you'll notice that he used the word 'removed' not 'superior'. I take this to mean 'different' which is, I'm afraid, pretty undeniable. You might see this as a good or a bad thing but we do expect a different code of behaviour.

BTW, do you have figures to support your claim of higher instances of wife battering etc.? I spent two years in the divorce courts as a clerk before joining up and noticed a distinct trend towards husband battering in service marriages.
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#18
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 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.
I'm not going to follow MDN's lead and use big letters and rude words, but this is a Covenant which is honoured more in the breach than the observance. It may well not be intended to be a one way street but in practice it is, not least because there is no effective mechanism by which members of the Army can make their voices heard politically, despite the lip service we pay to democratic ideals. 'The Nation' can thus largely ignore the needs of the Army and its individual soldiers.

I think the best use for this covenant would be for it to be engraved on the blade of an infantry pattern sword and firmly shoved up Gordon Brown's arrse. TCH can go next; then Bliar.


For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
 
#20
Prodigal said:
Ref wife battering, this was quoted to me by an Army doctor - don't think there are any research figures to back that up though.
I think that both of our experiences are somewhat subjective then. No consensus so far.
 

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