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The military covenant and the civil–military contract in Britain

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Is the British civil–military contract strained to breaking point? The contemporary portrayal of British civil–military relations is bleak, with academics, politicians, the media and military charities arguing that military–societal relations are in urgent need of repair. Through assessing the extent to which the reciprocal expectations of the armed forces and the British public are realized, this article will argue that the moral contract, although under stress, is not breaking. Underlying social trends and the use of doctrinal concepts such as the military covenant have, combined with recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, altered the expectations of both sides causing tensions within military–societal relations. Yet, while the armed forces do harbour unrealized expectations of the British public who are unwilling or unable to support the use of the military in recent conflicts, neither the public nor the military is so disillusioned with the performance of the other for the relationship to be described as breaking or broken.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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