Today, the Defence Committee launched its inquiry into the nature of the Armed Forces’ contribution to the ongoing effort against the coronavirus pandemic.
The committee’s inquiry will focus on the military’s preparedness and resilience, the nature and effectiveness of the Armed Forces’ support of civilian authorities during the pandemic, and the pressure that directing focus towards the pandemic places on our forces.
Wrexham MP, Sarah Atherton, was elected onto the Defence Committee in February and as an army veteran has been a strong voice for Armed Forces personnel in Westminster.
In response to the Committee’s inquiry, Sarah said:
“The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted our lives in ways that we have not seen for generations and is the greatest and most immediate threat this country currently faces.
“Alongside the extraordinary efforts of our community groups, and health and social care workers, the Armed Forces have helped lead the charge and fought on the frontline in our battle against this invisible enemy. From helping to deliver essential equipment, to facilitating testing, our Armed Forces have been unhesitating and unwavering in their contribution to the heroic effort against coronavirus.”
The Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood, said:
“It is vital that we take this opportunity to reflect on the nature of Defence’s contribution at all levels including Cabinet level-strategic planning, local resilience efforts and support taskings including transport and logistics.
“The one department that plans for times of crisis and contains the personnel who are trained in strategic planning is the Ministry of Defence. We must understand if all its assets were fully utilised to assist at every level in this enduring crisis and if directing the military’s focus towards the pandemic leaves us vulnerable and erodes our ability to respond to other threats from adversaries.
“We must also confront the question of whether the global distraction of this pandemic is providing space for our adversaries and competitors to further their own avaricious agendas.
“Fortunately, pandemics of this scale and magnitude strike only rarely. However, the lessons we learn from coronavirus can be applied more broadly, helping to shape our understanding of the military’s wider position and response to threats and national emergencies.”