A House of Commons Defence Committee report published on 1 May has echoed a major RUSI study published last year which called for the creation of an Armed Forces Covenant programme office situated in the Cabinet office.
The Defence Committee's annual Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2016 gives recommendations to ensure that implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) continues to be driven from the centre of government.
The Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) sets out a view of the desired relationship between the military and the government, and the military and broader society. It is based on the premise that, in addition to the government, the nation as a whole has a moral obligation to members of the armed forces, past and present, and their families.
The committee highlights RUSI's argument that the Covenant was a 'societal imperative rather than a narrow MoD obligation'. And as such, recommended the creation of an Armed Forces Covenant programme office, located in the Cabinet Office, with responsibility for delivery and measurement of progress of the Covenant using: 'Conventional management tools such as a forward programme, issues log, risk and opportunity management plan, as well as an engagement strategy.'
In its deliberations, the House of Commons defence committee recommends the creation of a new Ministerial post within the Cabinet Office with responsibility for the Covenant, along with a dedicated unit to monitor implementation and delivery.
RUSI's study on the armed forces covenant is partly based on a survey of some 100 businesses that have signed up to the Corporate Covenant. It finds that the convening power of the AFC is considerable, especially in relation to the private sector’s commitment to defence. It suggests that a properly staffed Armed Forces Covenant programme office, with a mix of civil servants, secondees from businesses, charities and volunteers, could be formed as a body separate from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), funded by both government and commerce.
The RUSI study was authored by Professor John Louth, Trevor Taylor and Lauren Twort. John Louth, Director of RUSI's Defence, Industries and Societies programme, said: ‘It is excellent that the Select Committee has focused on this critical subject and endorsed our research-led recommendations'.