The Ministry of Defence has received a ‘Military Aid to Civil Authorities’ request from the Scottish Government to assist with the vaccination programme.

Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, asked in a written Parliamentary question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Scottish Government has made any request to the armed forces for support in the covid-19 vaccine rollout in Scotland.”

James Heappey, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, responded:

“Yes. The Ministry of Defence has received a Military Aid to Civil Authorities request from the Scottish Government for 88 Service Personnel to support the identification and operationalisation of vaccination sites across Scotland.”

Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA), is the help and support provided by the Armed Forces to authorities in the UK, like the Police, NHS or local authorities. MACA may include assisting other government departments for urgent work of national importance such as responding to emergencies, maintaining supplies and essential services

How the British military assisted with the COVID-19 response in Scotland

In Scotland, military planners are already supporting the testing and vaccine programmes. Earlier during the pandemic Armed Forces personnel supported healthcare professionals to deliver testing at Glasgow Airport, and RAF Puma helicopters were deployed to Kinloss Barracks in Moray to provide emergency assistance to NHS boards and trusts across Scotland.

British Army setting up vaccination sites in Scotland

What else are the UK Armed Forces doing around the country?

The Ministry of Defence have outlined the support they’re giving to help roll-out the vaccine and to fight the pandemic in general. You can read the full text here but a summary is displayed below.

Over 5,000 UK Armed Forces personnel are currently deployed to support the response to the Coronavirus across the UK, working on 70 different tasks ranging from schools testing to the rollout of vaccines.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, military planners have been working in the background with colleagues from the NHS and other areas of Government to help coordinate the response to Coronavirus. Military logistical expertise has helped to arrange transport, PPE distribution, and construction.

Right now:

  • 10 military planners are assisting the Vaccine Task Force.
  • Two military planners are supporting the Vaccine Task Force Director.
  • Another 20 Military planners are helping regional planning, logistics and delivery.

In the 30 days since the Vaccine Task Force started, more than 1.4 million doses of vaccine have been delivered and 769 sites have been established. This is the equivalent to setting up a major supermarket chain in less than a month. If needed, a Vaccine Quick Reaction Force of around 130 personnel are ready to support the NHS, when and where they may need it.

This is part of a wider 1,500-strong reserve of personnel who could be made available should the NHS need them.

“This is the largest peacetime resilience operation ever undertaken by the UK Armed Forces and is drawing on every corner of expertise of the military. Personnel are also working inside NHS hospitals, with around 50 medics now committed to hospitals in Kent and Essex to ensure there is workforce resilience to cope with increasing demand. In Essex, Combat Medic Technicians (CMTs) are supporting a ‘step-down’ facility for those recovering from Covid-19.

A further 1,600 military medical professionals work in the NHS every day, from intensive care nurses to specialist surgeons, providing their skills on a permanent basis to support our health service. This means that very few defence medics are not currently deployed or working in the NHS. In Manchester, 800 personnel are deploying from nine regiments across the British Army at the request of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to support targeted asymptomatic testing of specific populations that may be at a higher risk of infection including social care staff, key workers, public facing occupations such as bus drivers, and those in high risk environments such care homes and shared accommodation for the homeless.

Over 2,155 personnel are deployed on community testing tasks, including in Lancashire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Kent. Local authorities are still able to apply for support from the Armed Forces to establish community testing programmes if required.”

A Royal Air Force planner looks at a map of Wales
Royal Air Force planners are establishing vaccination centres in Wales. (Jan 2021)

“The UK Armed Forces stand ready to support responses to COVID-19 however required, with up to 12,000 personnel ready to support if needed. Whether distributing vaccines, driving ambulances or testing the public, the Armed Forces stand beside the thousands of NHS staff, council workers and others keeping the country ticking every day.”

The Ministry of Defence also say that military planners and liaison officers are embedded in local authorities, government departments and the devolved nations providing planning advice, and “crucially feeding in early where military support is most effectively used so resources can be deployed quickly and efficiently”.

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Airborne (@guest_537183)
3 months ago

Yet again MACP is ongoing by the military. Good to see, but people don’t realise just how much this impacts on normal training. Yes it’s absolutely necessary, always good for recruitment and the right thing to do, but it’s somthing which does eventualy have a knock on effect. Contrary to what a lot of think, the military just doesn’t have thousands of people sitting about waiting to do something. Be interesting to see how long it takes the fascist Party to recognise the efforts.

Matthew Thorne
Matthew Thorne (@guest_537187)
3 months ago

I can’t see the SNP advertising this widely. They wouldn’t want to seeing anything associated with “UK” defence forces having a good news story. To be honest I’m very weary of hearing the SNP leader….she’s like record. My guess is that Scotland will stay within the UK. When push comes to shove the Scots know that being in the most successful union the world has ever known is the sensible option and cultural the ties are way too deep. They should also ponder carefully how disastrous their history was prior to union with the French, in particular, using them as… Read more »

geoff (@guest_537193)
3 months ago

I am sure the First Minister appreciates how valuable a world class Military Establishment is for all the people of the United Kingdom and how the strength of the 4 Nations together enables us to support and enjoy these resources throughout the Kingdom and beyond.

Nscnick (@guest_537348)
3 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Nothing to do with that, but the manpower capabilities of our esteemed armed forces (I was a member) are a significant resource in times of civil and military emergency. Unfortunately they are controlled by MoD, which is a reserved matter. If Scotland were independent then the same resources within Scotland would remain available at the behest of the Scottish Government. Please don’t try to make false parallels and political statements from a different context.

geoff (@guest_537360)
3 months ago
Reply to  Nscnick

They should be controlled by the MoD. They are a British resource. Surely you are not suggesting that the MoD would not respond immediately or at least in the same fashion as a request from ANYWHERE in the United Kingdom. Also and with respect, if Scotland were independent, she would have nowhere near the resources available to her now as she has as a member of the UK!! It might end up like Ireland-relying on the UK for Air Defence!! Your comment is typical SNP spin to suit their agenda but btw I hope we can exchange robust views without… Read more »

Nick Cole
Nick Cole (@guest_537502)
3 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Of course they are controlled by MoD. I didn’t say they weren’t. If you think about it, under our current constitutional arrangement defence is a reserved matter. An independent Scotland would have its own defence resources to direct as it needs. Instead of spouting stupid criticisms and blinkered statements. You are not comparing like with like or thinking about how future structures would be, and the resources available to an independent Scotland would be for them to decide. Also remember that those resources would no longer be available to Westminster. Also don’t forget that Scotland also contributes funding manpower and… Read more »

Nscnick (@guest_537346)
3 months ago

And they are not doing the same and much earlier at Westminster?

geoff (@guest_537361)
3 months ago
Reply to  Nscnick

Where do you get much earlier???? There are plenty of assets and much manpower on defence establishments in scotland!

Nick Cole
Nick Cole (@guest_537503)
3 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Westminster started allocating military resources months ago!

dan (@guest_538112)
3 months ago

Wait. I thought the Scots wanted to provide for themselves? lol