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The Military Covenant has existed as an unwritten social and moral commitment between the State and the Armed Forces that has developed through long standing convention and customs. Historically it has been largely associated with the Army, although its principles are applied across all three Services. Although it currently has no legal basis, it implies that in return for the sacrifices that Service personnel make, the State has an obligation to recognise that contribution and retains a long term duty of care toward Service personnel and their families.

Criticisms over the last few years that the Military Covenant was being steadily undermined, has prompted a series of welfare-related measures intended to improve the terms and conditions of Service personnel, their families and the treatment of veterans. Upon taking office in May 2010, the Government outlined a commitment to “work to rebuild the Military Covenant”, which would include the writing of a new Tri-Service Covenant. In June 2010 the Prime Minister also pledged to enshrine the principles of the Military Covenant in law.

On 16 May 2011 the Government published the first Armed Forces Covenant and a document outlining the measures it intended to put in place over the next few years in order to support that Covenant. The Government also announced its intention to amend the Armed Forces Bill, which is currently in the House of Commons, in order to enshrine the principles of the Covenant in law.


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