Ministry Of Defence
Examples of activities that the military are undertaking can be found below. This page will be updated with the latest activity on a regular basis.
COVID Support Force
Since 18 March 2020, the MOD has responded to over 286 COVID-19 Military Aid to Civilian Authority (MACA) requests. You can see the story so far, including what activities the military have undertaken on the previous COVID Support Force page.
As of 15 January 2021, there were around 5,000 military personnel committed to assist with 57 open COVID-19 MACA requests. This number is kept under constant review and military personnel will be available to support where needed. There are also around 14,000 personnel on standby as part of the Winter Preparedness Package who can be called upon for COVID-19 tasks.
Since 16 November, the Vaccine Task Force has been stood up to identify challenges and ensure the efficient delivery of a vaccine to the public. Currently, defence has placed five planners into the Vaccine Task Force planning team within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Two military planners are seconded to support the Vaccine Task Force Director. The NHS is well prepared to deliver the vaccine and keep pace with supplies as they increase over the coming weeks. As part of prudent planning, a small reserve force of medically qualified military personnel has been placed on standby to support this work if needed.
Additionally, 20 military personnel are assisting with regional vaccine planning, end-to-end logistics and delivery. These 20 personnel are split into groups of two, operating across the 10 NHS regions in England. There are also planners working with devolved nations.
Following a MACA request from the Wales Office, more than 90 service personnel are supporting Wales Health Boards in rapidly establishing and operating vaccination centres. As the vaccination programme is rolled out, military personnel will support the setting up of additional capacity as greater quantities of vaccine are made available. For the first time since the vaccine has been rolled out, trained defence medics will also support the administering of the vaccine.
The whole of government is working closely with the NHS to put plans in place to distribute the vaccine, including military planning teams to help coordinate regional and national deployment activity. Through the MACA process, Defence has provided 133 personnel into the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to support the NHS if requested. The QRF is made up of medically trained personnel that can vaccinate people when needed. This means personnel will be engaged only when required and requested by the NHS in a surge capacity. The QRF has 21 teams, 3 for each of the 7 NHS regions. Each region has a Medical Support Officer (MSO) to interlink help manage the three teams. The NHS is well prepared to deliver the vaccine and keep pace with supplies as they increase over the coming weeks.
Planning Support for Local Authorities
The UK Armed Forces have deployed dozens of military planners across the UK. Working with Local Resilience Forums and Partnerships and alongside the Emergency Co-ordination Centres in Scotland and Wales, they are providing additional expert resource to support local communities and businesses and to roll out tracing systems. Military personnel deployed to civil authorities are also helping to free up council resource so Local Authorities can focus on critical areas including enforcing restrictions.
In Liverpool and Halton, 3 Environmental Health Officers (EHO) are supporting the Merseyside Local Resilience Forum and Halton Borough Council. The military EHO are trained extensively in outbreak management and they can interpret the information gathered by the NHS Track and Trace call handlers to identify and map trends, clusters and sources of infection. This information will then allow Local Authorities to follow up in specific areas and conduct any enforcement that may be required. Military EHOs are also supporting authorities in Greater Manchester and Cumbria.
In Lancashire, 6 planners are supporting the Local Resilience Forum, focusing on supporting communities and businesses who are under Tier 3 restrictions, and rolling out the tracing programme. The planners are working with local districts to support vulnerable groups, ensuring robust plans are in place to give people access to vital supplies and medicines. The planners are also working with districts on support to businesses and the rollout of the COVID-19 marshals.
In addition, our scientists, based at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have been deployed directly into government departments, local resilience teams and military headquarters, to provide instant assistance, insights and advice to planners and decision makers.
Assisting with the National Testing Effort
The UK Armed Forces have been supporting the governments efforts to increase national testing capacity and support local authorities to get tests to those who need them. In Birmingham, 110 military personnel worked with Birmingham City Council on a Drop and Collect testing initiative, delivering and picking up tests from homes across the city. In Nottingham, military personnel supported the coordination of a volunteer network who helped to deliver the Drop and Collect self-test initiative.
The military have also supported testing in schools, with over 4,400 tests carried out by 50 military personnel across three schools in October. This was carried out as part of a Public Health England trial to evaluate the effectiveness of rapid antigen tests in a school environment. Around 90 personnel supported testing in 6 schools across the country in December.
Armed Forces personnel are supporting the Department for Education and Department for Health and Social Care to roll out testing to schools and colleges in January with around 1,500 personnel committed to assist. The majority of personnel are in local response teams, providing virtual support and phone advice to institutions needing guidance on the testing process and set-up of the testing facilities. Teams are also on standby to deploy at short notice to provide in-person support.