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A legion of attacks

9 February 2011

10:33 AM

9 February 2011

10:33 AM

Some attacks hurt more than others. And the attack launched by Chris Simpkins, the
director-general of the Royal British Legion, on the government’s approach to the military covenant will be particularly painful. For it comes after a
Defence Review that left few happy, and when the nation is engaged in a war from which many feel the Prime Minister is a bit too keen to withdraw.

Speaking to The Times, the Royal Legion chief said plans set out in the Armed Forces Bill requiring the Ministry of Defence to publish an annual report on the unwritten pact between society and the
military were not the same as writing it into legislation – something he said the government pledged to do last June.

Efforts to define the military covenant in legislation began in 1593, when an act ordered parishes to provide to help sick and wounded veterans. But, at the same time, the core of the covenant – in
the words of military doctrine, "an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility" between the nation, the army and each individual solider – is something far greater
than mere legislation. It is about mutual respect and honour – something that has, in fact, improved over the last couple of years. People clap at military parades, new charities have emerged, like
Help for Heroes, and the respect for the military is as high as ever. 


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