Detailed guide: COVID Support Force: the MODís continued contribution to the coronavirus response

Ministry Of Defence

February 19
16:55 2021

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.

Latest News

COVID Support Force

Since 18 March 2020, the MOD has responded to 343 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 19 February 2021, there were around 5,000 military personnel committed to assist with 78 open COVID-19 MACA requests. This number is kept under constant review and military personnel will be available to support where needed. There are around 14,000 personnel on standby as part of the Winter Preparedness Package who can be called upon for COVID-19 tasks.

Vaccine Support

Defence are supporting NHS efforts to vaccinate priority groups in England, Wales and Scotland. Defence have deployed 28 military planners to assist the Vaccine Task Force based in Skipton House and a further 200 military personnel are working across the UK to support the roll-out of the vaccine.

In England, Defence has stood up the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force, consisting of 21 teams of approximately 6 people, with another 21 on standby to offer support. The QRF teams are made up of medically trained personnel who can vaccinate people when needed by the NHS in a surge capacity. Many of the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force teams have been activated across England, helping to administer vaccines wherever requested, including Ashton Gate in Bristol and Southend University in Essex.

In Wales, around 186 service personnel are supporting Wales Health Boards to establish and operate vaccination centres. In Scotland 90 medics and management staff are making up the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force, ready to deploy across Scotland at short notice. 24 logistic support staff, mainly from the Edinburgh-based 3rd Battalion The Rifles, are assisting health boards run vaccination centres in Grampian, Dumfries and Golloway, Borders and Lothian.

Defence have also helped to deliver vaccines to overseas territories, including to Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and Ascension Island.

Medically trained personnel are supporting the delivery of vaccines if needed by the NHS.

Medically trained personnel are supporting the delivery of vaccines if needed by the NHS. MOD Crown Copyright.

Support to hospitals

Hundreds of defence medics have deployed to hospitals across the UK to work in intensive care units and other patient facing roles, providing vital care alongside health professionals, to help relieve pressure on the NHS and Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Services. Over 800 defence medics will join the 1,600 already embedded within the NHS, including 110 defence medics supporting the Department of Health in Northern Ireland and over 400 defence medics supporting hospitals in London, the Midlands and South West regions.

In addition, around 1000 general duties personnel are supporting in non-clinical roles, including porter duties, to help free up NHS staff for clinical roles. The majority of the 800 defence medics are trained as Combat Medical Technicians, who in their day job deploy on overseas operations and exercises as medics, work in defence medical centres and provide medical training to fellow Service Personnel. The standing up of hundreds of defence medics is being achieved without drawing on personnel who are already working in NHS trusts and with minimal impact to defence activities.

Defence medics are deploying to hospitals across the UK.

Defence medics are deploying to hospitals across the UK. MOD Crown Copyright.

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. Defence have supported testing programmes in Birmingham, Nottingham, Merthyr Tydfil, Liverpool, Kent, Manchester and in Scotland.

Service personnel continue to support testing in Manchester where 450 military personnel are deployed and a further 320 are set to be deployed to Scotland.

Armed Forces personnel deployed in Derbyshire are assisting with community testing.

Armed forces personnel deployed in Derbyshire are assisting with community testing. MOD Crown Copyright.

Hundreds of military personnel who were assisting with the testing of hauliers in Kent travelling to France have now handed over to civilian contractors. Around 320 Armed Forces personnel initially deployed on Christmas Eve and have been working round the clock to keep freight moving.

Three men standing around in the dark in high vis jackets holding COVID testing kits.

Military personnel are supporting the testing of hauliers in Kent. Copyright BFBS.

The military have also supported testing in schools, working with the Department for Education to roll out testing to schools and colleges in England. The majority of personnel are in local response teams, providing virtual support and phone advice to institutions needing guidance on the testing process. Teams are also on standby to deploy at short notice to provide in-person support.

Our scientists based at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have been supporting and working with Public Health England to increase testing capacity nationwide, up to 7000 tests per day can be processed at the Porton Down site.

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.

Environmental Health Officers and planners are supporting authorities in Liverpool, Halton, Greater Manchester, Cumbria Staffordshire, South Yorkshire and Lancashire 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.

Other support

Military personnel are also supporting ambulance trusts including Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, with 94 medics and drivers. In the North West, around 120 personnel are supporting the North West Ambulance Service across Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Lancashire. Around 50 armed forces personnel are working with the South East Coast Ambulance Service and around 40 are supporting East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

Defence are supporting the Cabinet Office to tackle disinformation and hostile state narratives which seek to undermine the UKs reputation. All work is internationally focused, and the military do not and have never conducted any kind of action against British citizens.

Members of the Armed Forces standing in a room receiving first aid training, listening to a man at the front demonstrate.

UK Armed Forces personnel including medics and drivers are supporting Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust. MOD Crown Copyright.

Related Articles


  1. We don't have any comments for this article yet. Why not join in and start a discussion.

Write a Comment

Your name:
Your email:

Post my comment

Recent Comments

Follow Us on Twitter

Share This

Enjoyed this? Why not share it with others if you've found it useful by using one of the tools below: