At times of crisis, the government often calls upon the military to contribute to the national response due to their specialist skill-set and equipment. This is called Military Aid to Civil Authorities or ‘MACA’.
Reservists from The London’s Regiment ran the Covid-19 Mobile testing unit (MTU) in Richmond.
As the government and the nation responded to the coronavirus outbreak, behind the scenes a team of military planners from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force have been embedded within government departments to offer expert advice. The UK Armed Forces created the Covid Support Force.
They have helped to build hospitals, drive ambulances, deliver PPE, test patients and everything in between. Reservists across the nation were required as part of this tranche. Major General Simon Brooks-Ward, Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets), wrote to the employers of the Reservists, to thank them for their on-going support and explain how the Armed Forces proposed to use its Reservists in support of the nation’s response to Covid-19.
Only Reservists with specialist skills that met specific requests for help from other government departments were called out. No one already working to deliver front line services was mobilised to make sure these key workers could continue their excellent and critical efforts.
Reservists of 7th Battalion The Rifles ran the MTU in Leatherhead.
Maj Gen Brooks-Ward says in his letter: “This is just the initial stage of the tried and tested ‘intelligent mobilisation’ process. It is intended to fill specific gaps by carefully selecting the right Reservists available. As and when those Reservists are selected, they should inform their employers and ensure there are no compelling reasons why they cannot be released, before confirming their availability for mobilisation.”
“The Reservists – your employees – who are mobilised for the Covid-19 Support Force will be working for the benefit of everyone in the country, including their local communities and civilian employers. Thank you again for your help in making that possible.”
Reservists assisted with delivering a range of activities, such as providing medical and logistical support for the NHS, acting as liaison officers and deploying specialist skills such as engineering and accounting.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “Our Reservists are a truly remarkable group of people, each with their own skills and experience from their civilian careers beyond the Armed Forces. At times like these, to be able to draw on that pool of talent and expertise is invaluable. I know that our Reservists will answer the nation’s call with real enthusiasm and will play a key part in our response to Covid-19.”