The COVID Support Force of the British Armed Forces is currently supporting the public services to respond to the outbreak with the following activity. From 27 March, three RAF Puma helicopters will be stationed at Kinloss Barracks in Moray, Scotland, as part of the UK Government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Pumas will work closely with a Chinook and a Wildcat helicopter based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire.
A second helicopter facility will cover the Midlands and Southern England from Aviation Task Force Headquarters at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. Chinook and Wildcat helicopters normally based at RAF Odiham and RNAS Yeovilton will support southern areas.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: The creation of these helicopter hubs is the next step in our armed forces’ contribution to tackling the coronavirus outbreak whenever it appears throughout the United Kingdom. Our aircraft are ready to support emergency services and local communities wherever needed across the highlands and islands of Scotland, the armed forces have always got your back.
In addition, our superb military planners and logisticians are engaging with the governments and health services of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support their efforts in responding to the virus.
Maintaining public order
Maintaining public order is the responsibility of the police. The Ministry of Defence is working with a range of partners across Government, including the National Police Chiefs Council and the Home Office, to understand how we can best support the Government’s response to the outbreak. The armed forces stand ready to assist civilian authorities if required, but there are no current plans for the military to participate in the enforcement of public order.
Personnel at readiness
On 18 March the Defence Secretary announced a COVID Support Force to assist public services with the response to the coronavirus outbreak. As of 23 March, there are 250 personnel deployed to assist civil authorities with the response. They are part of 20,000 armed forces personnel currently stood at readiness to take part.
The armed forces have contributed dozens of 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 coronavirus outbreak.
Our liaison officers at Joint Military Command Scotland in Stirling are in close contact with the Scottish Government’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre and we are also providing planning support to Scotland’s regional and local resilience partnerships.
The military operations team in Brecon Barracks is in close contact with the Welsh Government’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre and is providing planning support to Wales’ four regional Local Resilience Forums.