Date: Monday March 23, 2020 at 7:40am
Secretary announces new measures to put service personnel and Reservists on
standby to support public services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
of Defence and The
Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP
The Ministry of Defence (MOD)
will put an additional 10,000 military personnel at a higher readiness and
place Reserves on standby to support public services as part of a new “COVID
Support Force”, the Defence Secretary has announced.
These measures are part of
prudent contingency planning to respond in a timely way to any request from
other governments departments or civil authorities for support during the
So far, the military have
assisted with repatriation flights from China and Japan. They are also
providing specialist military planners to Local Resilience Forums who are
providing support to public services, local authorities and emergency services
in preparing their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, the MOD can
announce further preparation ready to support public services if required:
up to 10,000 personnel will be placed at a
higher readiness, so they are able to assist with supporting public
services. This is on top of the 10,000 already held at higher readiness.
150 military personnel will be trained to
drive oxygen tankers in order to support the NHS if required. They will
begin training on Monday.
measures have been taken to enable the call
out of Reservists, should they be required to join the response effort
- scientists from the Defence Science and
Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are supporting Public Health England’s effort to
understand the virus and tackle the spread.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
"The men and women of our armed forces stand
ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19.
The unique flexibility and dedication of the services means that we are able to
provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need."
"From me downwards the entirety of
the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are dedicated to getting the
nation through this global pandemic."
There are well-rehearsed
mechanisms in place for the military to provide support to civil authorities in
times of need. Most recently the military has been called on to support the
government’s response to flooding.
Defence is fully engaged with
other government departments, the devolved administrations and local
authorities to establish how best it can support over the coming weeks and
The Standing Joint Command will
be the Command and Control Structure for the COVID Support Force, which
represents the MOD’s contribution to the government response.
Major General Charlie Stickland
Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff Operations and Commitments said:
"Putting more personnel at a higher state of
readiness and having our Reserves on standby gives us greater flexibility to
support public services as and when they require our assistance."
"The COVID Support Force, potentially
drawing upon our highly skilled scientists at the Defence Science and
Technology Laboratory or oxygen tanker drivers, will form part of a whole force
effort to support the country during its time of need. Our servicemen and women
are committed to maintain our operational output and delivering any support the