The Military Covenant states that in exchange for their military service and their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice, soldiers should receive the nation’s support. Exploring the concept’s invention by the Army in the late 1990s, its migration to the civilian sphere from 2006 and its subsequent entrenchment in public policy, Ingham seeks to understand the Covenant’s progress from the esoteric confines of Army doctrine to national recognition. Drawing on interviews with senior commanders, policy-makers and representatives of Forces’ charities, this study highlights how the Army deployed the Military Covenant to convey the pressure on the institution caused by the concurrent combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. While achieving a better deal for soldiers whose sacrifice became all too apparent, the Military Covenant licensed unprecedented incursion into politics by senior commanders, enabling them to out-manoeuvre the Blair-Brown governments and to challenge the existing norms within Britain’s civil-military relationship. As British Forces prepare to leave Afghanistan, this study considers the value Britain accords to military service and whether civilian society will continue to uphold its Covenant with those who have served the nation.
Sarah Ingham completed her PhD research at the War Studies Department, King's College London in 2013. A former journalist and political researcher, she has previously published two novels.
A Yankee Book Peddler UK Core Title for 2014 ’This case study of the British Military Covenant is a major contribution to one of the most important issues in contemporary civil-military relations. It is empirically rich, clear in argument and is essential reading for practitioners and policy-makers, academics and students.’ Anthony Forster, University of Essex, UK ’The military covenant is now firmly fixed in the landscape of Britain's civil-military relations in Britain. It has strong backing from central and local government, and it has provoked interest abroad as other countries consider imitating it. And yet ignorance - about its origins, its development, its meaning and its purpose - remains widespread. Sarah Ingham has provided the first scholarly examination of the Covenant in a pioneering and important study.’ Hew Strachan, University of Oxford, UK