The Government are looking at existing contingency operations to provide support to the civil authorities.

Lynn Browne Shadow Minister for the Treasury, asked via a written Parliamentary question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department is preparing to train service personnel to perform essential (a) public health, (b) nursing and (c) civil protection functions in the event that work forces are depleted or reassigned during the peak period of covid-19 infection.”

James Heappey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, replied:

“Defence has a number of existing contingency operations to provide support to the civil authorities, including the Police and Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service. In light of the likely additional call on military assistance to mitigate COVID-19 related staff absence in civil authorities, Defence is reviewing its plans, training and readiness in order to support additional requests.”

Covid-19 in the UK

As of the 17th of March, after performing 50,442 tests, the Government say that there have been 1,950 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. 60 people in the UK with confirmed infection have died and one further death has been confirmed in the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands. Additionally, one British citizen died in the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The Ministry of Defence can already call on 300 GPs, 1,200 nurses and a significant amount of surgeons. While many of these personnel already work full-time in the NHS, the MoD could deploy 2,500 combat medical technicians if requested to do so.

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Daniele Mandelli

In the Cold War hundreds of sites were designated KP’s “Key Points” to be protected, and no doubt those contingency plans are still in place.

Wonder when the local supermarkets will become KP’s, given the panic buying going on? Especially if it gets so bad there are food riots and Tesco’s gets laid waste!

Steve Martin

The worry I have is the increase of service personnel in isolation. It’s creeping up without much being said.


The inevitability of armed forces being involved, especially if the virus hits the UK hard is clear. There are still designated sites from what I hear, around the four nations that would be used for emergency hospitals and civil management. The fact that the West has probably not been so vulnerable in terms of military stability, since the end of the Cold War, is a sobering thought. Our soft underbelly has never been so tempting?


Whatever happened to the ‘home defence units’ that were designated to guard some of those KPs ? As I remember they were armed with Brens and other old but serviceable weapons.

Daniele Mandelli

They were part of the TA I recall? And made up by over 50s? I still have the Combat Survival magazines that had a piece detailing them.


The lads to old for the TA, platoon sized organizations, Key Point Defence, think if memory serves me right only had an annual commitment of a couple of weekends! Numbered 5000, another good example of using who and what is available. Cannon fodder for a Spetznatz team but good enough to deter the toilet roll/pasta/Corbyn supporters who would have wanted to try a bit of local misbehaving. SLRs, and 4 mags of 20 rds, enough to deter and possibly stop. Cheers mate.


There will be a massive restructuring of defence assets after this. The country as a whole will be burdened by a huge multigenerational debt and no longer will money be available for overseas expeditions, nuclear weapons, aircraft carriers and the like. A more relevant defence force will emerge hopefully better suited to the demands of the modern world and the citizens of its countries. This will be the case in other countries as well. Covid 19 will mark the change of so any things and showing off in some big ‘willy waving’ exercise will become a thing of the past.

Steve Martin

Here we go.


Hmm, I don’t think so. China is a country of 1.5billion people. The biggest impact on China is economic and that is likely to be the same for every other country. Out of 65million in the UK we have only 1500 ish confirmed cases. OK it is likely that there are at least 10 times that number with very mild symptoms but they are the means by which the virus is spreading. Worst case scenario i.e. no response at all from government, is about 500,000 deaths in the UK which is a lot of grief for many families but not… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Good post.

The day defence cuts happen, “Harold” will be here to rub our noses in it.

Which is why he does it.


Hi Danielle,

Yeh, there are always contary views, which is fair enough in a democracy. It gives us the chance to clearly set why defence is important. It would be nice to not have to have armed forces, but the world just isn’t like that – so we need the armed forces to deter the likes of Putin…

Daniele Mandelli


As long as there are armed forces in other countries, we must have likewise.
As long as other nations spy on us, we must do likewise ( regardless of what the Guardian thinks )
As long as other states have nuclear weapons, we should to.

It always amazes me how some cry for unilateral disarmament, yet insist on locks on their windows and doors.

There is no difference in my view. My home is my house, and also my nation, and both need defending.


Now then, Dan, I’m a Guardian reader ! 🙂

Daniele Mandelli

Lol! Granted with exceptions HF. I was more referring to their war with GCHQ over surveillance to be fair.


Same chuff, every time. Total troll with a lack of even basic knowledge of the military. So Harlod troll please advise on the force levels and structure/capabilites in your defence force………..