Supporting the Nation

Coronavirus

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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.

Whilst the pandemic is ongoing, we will keep you as up-to-date as possible across our channels on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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

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.

Army families

Support and advice are available through the Army Families Federation. To find out more please visit: https://aff.org.uk/advice/family-life/covid-19/

Key workers

If a member of your family is a key worker and you need to find out where you stand on child care, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational- settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for- parents-and-carers


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.

Military engineers and medics to support NHS Nightingale Hospital: London

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.

NHS PPE supply chain distribution

Our soldiers have been drafted in, short-term, to assist in the distribution of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to NHS hospitals across the UK.

NHS Oxygen tanker drivers

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.

Aviation support

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.


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 at https://apply.army.mod.uk/covid19 
 
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.

Amendments to British Army Events and Training

Overseas exercises

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

Overseas operations

Iraq

  • 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


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.