Army ready to serve during the COVID-19 pandemic
The Army’s priority remains to protect the UK public in these unprecedented times. We are working hard to ensure we continue to be ready, resilient and responsive to all the challenges the coronavirus may bring. As the Army family, we are well disposed to support the nation in its time of need.
We will keep you informed on four key areas:
- How we are following the NHS Guidance for staying healthy, including hand washing, keeping fit and cooking at home
- How we’re helping on the ground and in your communities to support our partners, including our amazing emergency services, as they work to keep everyone safe and healthy
- Keeping you posted on our events, where things are changing, being postponed or cancelled, this will include recruitment and training updates
- Dispelling rumours. Don’t believe everything you read elsewhere, if you want to check what the Army is doing for COVID-19 check here and our social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. More info further down this page.
Following NHS and Government Guidance
It’s key that our staff are fit, healthy and ready to serve at any time, so we’re all following the NHS guidance closely. We even made our own hand washing video for the troops although there are a lot more amusing ones out there.
All bases have received the guidance issued by Public Health England and the precautions taken at our establishments are the same as those for the public. As you can imagine, we have well-rehearsed plans in place for dealing with a whole range of health matters, so we are using these to inform our approach on a daily basis.
Any serving personnel who are infected with the COVID-19, or who have come into contact, directly or otherwise, with those who are, will follow the advice and guidance issued by Public Health England. To reduce the risk to the public, anyone that needs isolating will be kept in quarantine for the recommended 14-day quarantine period, with around-the-clock support from medical staff. This means there is absolutely no risk to the wider public from any of our staff that may get infected.
Support and advice are available through your chain of command, welfare offices and the Army Families Federation.
If a member of your family is a key worker and you need to find out where you stand on child care, please visit the gov.uk webpage.
Recruitment and Training
The British Army is still recruiting. The process will continue ‘virtually’ during the period time we have paused face-to-face recruiting activity as a precaution. Further information or a list of FAQs on recruiting can be found on the Army Jobs website.
The Army Training Regiments in Pirbright and Winchester; the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, and the Army Foundation College in Harrogate have all announced a pause in training until May.
Everything will start again as soon as conditions allow. Any recruits in training will retain their place in training. Those who are due to start training will be given a new start date as soon as possible. All other candidates will be kept informed as the situation develops.
A call has gone out to former military personnel who have left the Army in the last 36 months to invite them to rejoin their former regiments, subject to criteria. These experienced people, whose skills learnt in the Army will still be valid and invaluable at this time, can fast-track their enrolment.
By rejoining, former soldiers gain financial and employment stability, while helping the Army deliver tasks required by the country at this challenging time. Some eligible former soldiers could see themselves back with their regiments in eight weeks, subject to criteria.
In line with direction from the Foreign Office, we have reduced all our international travel to the absolute minimum required to sustain major operations. All other international travel has been, or likely will be stopped in the near future.
A number of overseas training exercises have been postponed, including:
- SWIFT RESPONSE
- DEFENDER 20 CPX
- DYNAMIC FRONT
- JOINT WARRIOR
- PRAIRIE STORM
- There has been a reduced requirement for training from the Iraqi Security Forces and a subsequent pause in the Coalition and NATO training missions in Iraq. The MOD has therefore decided to redeploy some of its personnel back to the UK
- The training mission, which the UK has conducted alongside Global Coalition partners since 2014, has been paused for 60 days as a precaution due to the global pandemic
- The UK will retain key military personnel throughout the country to ensure the Iraqi Government, Global Coalition and UK national interests are appropriately supported
- The troops returning home will remain at readiness for a range of potential deployments across the world, while having the opportunity to support loved ones facing the challenges of the virus
How is the British Army helping?
In addition to our troops that are always on standby, ready to serve, we are also providing specialists to local resilience groups who are providing planning advice and support to public services, local authorities and emergency services in preparing their response to this pandemic. There are well-rehearsed plans in place for the military to provide support to civil authorities in times of need.
Our soldiers are increasing their assistance to the COVID-19 effort in various ways throughout the country. The Coldstream Guards for example, have delivered diagnostic research equipment in the north of the country and have assisted with the collection and delivery of other medical equipment from a number of locations in the South.
Planners, from all branches of the Army including logistics, engineering and medical, are increasingly being called upon for assistance. Behind the scenes planning and preparation of many of the Army’s capabilities continues to ensure that our soldiers are ready to deploy and assist the nation where it is most needed.
A platoon of Reserve soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh have been trained on ambulance decontamination tasks as part of the COVID Response Force in Wales.
Training took place at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon and was delivered by staff from the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust.
The 30 Reserve soldiers, drawn from British Army units allocated to Joint Military Command Wales, which has a fully stood up UK Operations Room at Brecon Barracks, the British Army's headquarters in Wales, are in addition to the 60 ambulance drivers provided by Defence on a previous MACA (Military Aid to the Civil Authorities) task.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh are undertaking training to enable them to support South West Ambulance Service Trust (SWAST) as part of wider support to the NHS in the region.
SWAST have designed and delivered a bespoke Ambulance Driver Training course, which has been delivered to selected personnel at four locations in the South West.
A team of military logistic support experts from 4th Regiment Royal Logistics Corps are working alongside UK Police on the logistic supply chain for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This police-led initiative will ensure that supplies of PPE continue to meet the needs of police forces across the UK and has started with the formation of a National Hub in Oxfordshire.
Forces across the UK are now capturing their PPE requirements and feeding them directly into the new National Police Central Logistics Hub in Oxfordshire. This central supply chain, led by UK Police and supported by the 4 Regt RLC troops, will ensure that police officers and staff receive the very best protection to mitigate the risks presented by public-facing roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Military reservists have been mobilised to support public services as part of the COVID Support Force. At the moment, only Reservists with specialist skills that meet specific requests for help from other government departments will be called out.
They will be used in a range of roles, such as providing medical and logistical support for the NHS; acting as liaison officers; and deploying specialist skills such as engineering and accounting. Reservists already working in the NHS or other front line roles will not be used.
Army Engineers and Medics are working with NHS staff to help turn the ExCel Centre London, into an emergency hospital to treat Coronavirus patients. To be known as the NHS Nightingale hospital, it is expected to have 4,000 beds in two separate wards. The hospital is expected to admit its first patients early next week.
We are providing Army Engineers to ensure the delivery of power, lighting, heating, ventilation, sanitation to the hospital, and to ensure the oxygen supply to Intensive Care Units.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“Our military planners and engineers are working hand in hand with the NHS to support their development of the NHS Nightingale Hospital. The Armed Forces have already been distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet the increased demand and we stand ready to assist further in any capacity needed.
“The NHS and our Armed Forces are both world leaders in their fields, and this ambitious project is just one example of what can be achieved when they come together to help the nation.”
A number of Army medics will also support the NHS nurses, doctors and other staff from across the health service.
Our soldiers have been drafted in, short-term, to assist in the distribution of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to NHS hospitals across the UK.
We will be providing 75 drivers and 45 drivers’ mates as part of Defence’s support to the NHS Oxygen (O2) Supply Chain. They will be driving O2 tankers from production facilities to NHS facilities and will include loading and offloading. Sixteen soldiers have already begun their week-long training with NHS commercial-training delivery partners.
Forces from the Joint Helicopter Command are on stand-by to provide aviation capability in support to civil authorities. This will enable access to isolated communities that may not be able to obtain access to urgent medical care during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Support Helicopter Force, Army Air Corps and Commando Helicopter Force will provide helicopters and personnel from across the 3 Services, a Joint effort to respond to the COVID-19 effort as required.
The Joint Helicopter Command remains at readiness to support broader disaster relief efforts and continues to conduct routine training to maintain proficiency of crews.
The Joint Helicopter Support Squadron and Tactical Supply Wing are key enablers and force multipliers within the JHC, comprising of both Army and RAF personnel. They will enable the provision of safe, cleared and suitable Helicopter Landing Sites, as well as remote aircraft re- fuelling capabilities, in support of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Government has ordered several thousand ventilators to be delivered over the course of the next few months and the first are now rolling off production lines as new imported devices have been airlifted into the UK. This includes 300 ventilators which arrived at MOD Donnington this week.
The initial batch of Penlon ventilators will begin arriving into Defence Equipment and Support’s (DE&S) Defence Fulfilment Centre in Shropshire in the coming days and delivered to hospitals by the MOD Distribution Service.
Military personnel are providing COVID testing to NHS key workers at sites set up nationwide.
Regular and reserve soldiers from units across the UK have been trained to safely deliver the COVID tests at drive-through facility that can test about 500 NHS personnel a day.
Once trained in the process and delivery of safe testing, the Army personnel are able to redeploy wherever new sites may be set up. Furthermore, with further training of more soldiers taking place in Barracks, the soldiers are adding skills to the government arsenal to fight the pandemic.
In addition, mobile testing units will travel around the UK to increase access to coronavirus testing. Units will respond to areas of highest demand, travelling to test frontline workers and the most vulnerable at sites including care homes, police stations and prisons.
The new units will work alongside the country’s drive-through test sites, sending patient samples to the network of Lighthouse Labs, to rapidly increase the number of tests done each day.
Essential workers and the most vulnerable will get access to coronavirus tests after the government unveiled the network of mobile testing units to travel where there is significant demand, including care homes, police stations and prisons.
The number of new mobile units is being scaled up after a successful pilot, which saw Department of Health and Social Care vehicles refitted to fully functioning testing sites, following a design developed by the Royal Engineers.
Mobile facilities can be set up in under 20 minutes, allowing the testing of hundreds of people each day and are now travelling to those most in need and hard to reach.
The NEC in Birmingham is being converted into NHS Nightingale by a team comprising NHS workers, private contractors and British Army troops, who are working together to build bed spaces and intensive care facilities within the exhibition centre.
Sappers including personnel from 502 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (STRE) are supporting NHS staff and civilian contractors to design, plan and construct the new NHS Nightingale hospital located in the NEC, Birmingham.
Military personnel including 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group and staff from the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine have been assisting NHS staff, contractors and wider military units with the design and construction of the facility.
Soldiers from 32 Engineer Regiment and 1st Battalion The Duke Of Lancaster’s Regiment have been assisting Local Authorities in Cumbria to set up additional recovery centres for those recovering from Covid-19. The local initiative has seen five recovery centres built across Cumbria and will help to relieve pressure from local hospitals.
Airborne medics have deployed to the Falkland Islands at short notice to reinforce the far-flung territory's only hospital in the battle against coronavirus.
The team of six soldiers from Colchester- based 16 Medical Regiment, take with them the equipment and personnel to provide extra beds to the intensive care unit at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Stanley.
Eighty military personnel have been mobilised to augment the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS). The personnel, some of whom will already have emergency response driving experience, will be drawn from all three of the armed services. Some will be tasked with manning the emergency response cars and others will be taking calls from those in needs as part of the emergency response centres. Additional personnel have been conducting specialist training to enable them to drive larger ambulances.
All armed forces personnel are trained in first aid and trauma treatment, but this group are also civilian emergency responders in their off-duty time.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards have been assisting the NHS by transporting essential medical equipment across the UK. This support is working to bolster the NHS Logistic chain allowing vital equipment to get to where it is most needed. The guardsmen picked up kit from the Institute of Developmental Sciences at Southampton General Hospital and took it to several locations around the UK for further distribution across the health service network.
The Army is now planning the phased re-start of training across its establishments. Essential training has continued in order to maintain critical operational outputs. Where this is necessary, such activity has been conducted in line with Government guidance as far as possible.
Major Duncan Fraser, is currently attached to the Army Medical Services as the Learning Development Advisor under Op Rescript. With a wealth of knowledge of effective training and education to guide him, his recent support has been both varied and demanding.
As the UK went into lockdown at the end of March, the few flights still operating through London airports were mostly bringing Brits home or taking foreign nationals back to their country. Across the world, coronavirus has seen those working abroad returning home as governments seek to protect their citizens from being stranded. However, for two French Army officers, things have been very different.
Inspirational war veteran Captain Tom Moore has been appointed the first Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, in recognition of his incredible NHS fundraising feat that embodies the Army's values and standards and has captured the nation’s heart.
With the NHS working hard to deliver vital supplies around the country, Reservists from 124 Transport Squadron, part of 151 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, have been helping keep things moving.
An Army husband and wife team who are both are vital to government efforts to defeat coronavirus, are getting used to the new normal that has been thrust upon many workers in roles across the UK.
British Army teams are being trained as COVID-19 Testers and the first teams of soldiers to complete their training were validated at a new purpose made testing site at IKEA, Wembley this week.
Today saw Desert Rat WO2 Brennan promoted to WO1; the most senior soldier rank in the British Army. Although he couldn't be presented with his rank slide in person due to the coronavirus restrictions, the 7th Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier Bewick, did the next best thing and presented it via Skype.
This week, 15 paramedics and combat medical technicians from 16 Medical Regiment have completed an EEAST training package at Colchester’s Merville Barracks to prepare them to work on ambulances in partnership with NHS paramedics.
The MOD has contacted the employers of Armed Forces Reservists to keep them up to date with regards to the ‘intelligent mobilisation’ of Reserve Forces to support the national response to COVID-19.
Today the immaculate icons of the United Kingdom the Grenadier Guards took over their duties as the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace without fuss or fanfare. Following Government advice to encourage social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, in the Royal Household, and the military has decided to temporarily cease the ceremonial that usually accompanies the Changing of the Guard and is such a draw for members of the public.
Coronavirus Support - Weekly Update
During these uncertain times it is important to #StayFit #StayHealthy and #StayHome.
Only being able to leave the house once a day for exercise should not limit our ability to exercise.
Linked below are a number of exercises that can be completed from the comfort of your front room to supplement your exercise regime
Countering Fake News
It’s important to use trusted sources for your information. We provide regular updates on all of our channels about what our troops are up to in the UK and across the World. If you want to know what is going on, please keep checking back with us, and if you’ve seen or heard something online that doesn’t make sense, let us know and we’ll make sure the right information gets out there.
Like anyone else we travel around a lot. The difference is that we have very distinctive vehicles and uniforms and we often travel in groups, so we do tend to stick out more than anyone else, but it shouldn’t be cause for concern. Here are some things we are not doing despite what you might have heard:
- The Army has not been deployed to guard supermarkets in Northern Ireland
- The Army has not been deployed to the streets of London
- The Army is not patrolling UK streets in the event of a lockdown
- The Army is not being deployed to Scottish beaches
- The Army is not setting up in remote Welsh campsites
- The Army is not making a giant lasagne in Wembley Stadium
- Soldiers are not having their pay reduced to 80 per cent. A WhatsApp message being shared amongst personnel stating the reduction in pay on 1 April is not true.
When the Royal Military Police works with civilian police forces
It is well-established practise for the Royal Military Police (RMP) to patrol with civilian police forces in major garrison towns as part of their role to police the Army. This is done either as part of routine patrolling activity or at specific events where there is likely to be a significant military presence, such as Army v Navy rugby match or Armed Forces Day.
Members of the RMP have not been deployed with civilian police forces as part of any specific COVID-19 effort, but are advising soldiers of the rules on social distancing while they are on routine patrol, in order to protect the force.
The RMP only have authority over those who are subject to Service law, they have no authority to arrest members of the public. They do not have the authority to enforce breaches in social distancing.