View all news

The British army in a turbulent world

Press release issued: 14 June 2006

Do women have a place in today’s armed forces? This is just one of the questions to be discussed at a workshop open to the public by Bristol University’s Department of Politics next week.

Do women have a place in today’s armed forces?  This is just one of the questions to be discussed at a workshop open to the public by Bristol University’s Department of Politics on Thursday 22 June.

People taking part in the day will have the opportunity to be involved in workshops with panels on What is the future role of war in international relations?, Can the military be used to re-build failed states? and Does public opinion matter when governments want to go to war?

In the afternoon there will be a round table discussion on ‘Old and new wars and global governance’.  Four authors, including Iraqi expert Dr Eric Herring, will discuss their recent work, with the chance to ask them questions.

The event will be followed by a talk by Professor Anthony Forster entitled, Changing the guard? Politics and the British army in a turbulent world.

Professor Forster will focus on how the Military Covenant between the nation and our service personnel has broken down.  The Military Covenant is the key-stone of the civil-military compact, a covenant in which service personnel are called upon to make personal sacrifices and in return the state guarantees fair treatment.

The causes of the break down are diverse, but centre on the way in which British armed forces are being engaged in ‘wars of choice’ and the declining ability of senior military commanders to govern the armed forces as an autonomous regulatory professional space.

Professor Forster will argue that government ministers and senior military commanders need to acknowledge the scale of the challenge to the Military Covenant, rather than deny that problems exist, or base their response on special pleading.


He will illustrate these points with examples from the UK military’s response to gender equality and sexual orientation, war crimes in Iraq, the military’s duty of care and the creation of an Armed Forces Federation.

Professor Forster, speaking on his talk, said: “These challenges illustrate that the military leadership has no choice but to rethink its existing approach and design more appropriate policy solutions if it is to re-invigorate the Military Covenant and British armed forces are to remain ‘fit for purpose’.”

The workshop, organised by the Governance Research Centre in the Department of Politics, will take place on Thursday 22 June, University of Bristol, Department of Politics, 10 Priory Road, Bristol from 10 am to 4.30 pm.  Tickets are priced at £10, which includes refreshments and a buffet lunch.

For further information or to book a place please contact, Jean Pretlove, tel 0117 331 6793 or email

Professor Forster’s lecture, entitled ‘Changing the guard? Politics and the British Army in a turbulent world’ will take place in the Reception Room, Wills Memorial Building, Queen’s Road, Bristol at 5.15 pm.  The lecture is free and open to all.

Edit this page