Mon, 4 December 2023

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Get ready to hand over 3,000 military reservists for coronavirus fight, businesses told

The Ministry of Defence said 3,000 reservists are likely to be needed over a six-month period.

2 min read

The Ministry of Defence expects 3,000 military reservists to be called up for duty as part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to employers with reservists on their books, assistant Chief of Defence Staff Simon Brooks-Ward said they would play “a critical part” in the newly-established COVID Support Force.

And he raised the prospect of a compulsory mobilisation if that was deemed an “operational necessity”. 

The Government has said no reserves working in the NHS or in frontline public services will be asked to take on additional duties.

But the MoD said it expects 3,000 to be needed for a six-month deployment, with tasks including backing up the NHS, providing specialist skills, reinforcing regional command posts and “to support the implementation of contingency plans developed by other departments”.

Major General Brooks-Ward told company bosses: “The situation is dynamic and we are not yet able to say how long individual call-outs may last but you should plan for at least six months and under current legislation this would be for no longer than 12 months.”

Companies who employ reservists have been told they will be able to claim financial compensation if their staff are called up, including for employees who have already been furloughed as part of the Governemnt’s scheme to underwrite wages.

The Army chief said: “We are confident, at this time of national emergency, that employers will do everything they can to support us in combatting this dreadful virus. 

“The sooner we can do this, the sooner you and I can focus on recovering our businesses to something verging on normality.

"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 making that possible.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced last month that up to 20,000 troops had been placed on standby as part of the new Covid Support Force, which is expected to help transport NHS equipment, man roadblocks and provide expertise to other public services.

Announcing the latest reservist numbers, Armed Forces Minister 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.”

He added: “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.”

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