COVID Support Force: the MOD’s continued contribution to the coronavirus response

March 29, 2021

Military personnel are supporting public services across the UK to assist with the response to COVID-19. This page has the latest information on the MOD’s activities. (updated 29 Mar 2021)

Examples of activities that the military are undertaking can be found below. This page will be updated weekly with the latest activity.

Latest news

COVID Support Force

Since 18 March 2020, the MOD has responded to 372 COVID-19 Military Aid to Civilian Authority (MACA) requests. You can see the story so far, including what activities the military have undertaken on the previous COVID Support Force page.

As of 26 March 2021, there were around 2,000 military personnel committed to assist with 48 open COVID-19 MACA requests. This number is kept under constant review and military personnel will be available to support where needed. There are around 14,000 personnel on standby who can be called upon for COVID-19 tasks.

Vaccine Support

Defence is supporting NHS efforts to vaccinate priority groups in England, Wales and Scotland. Defence has deployed 28 military planners to assist the Vaccine Task Force based in Skipton House and a further 200 military personnel are working across the UK to support the rollout of the vaccine.

In England, Defence has stood up the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force, consisting of 42 teams of 6 people. The QRF teams are made up of medically trained personnel who can vaccinate people when needed by the NHS in a surge capacity. Many of the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force teams have been activated across England, helping to administer vaccines wherever requested, including Ashton Gate in Bristol and Southend University in Essex.

In Wales, around 186 service personnel are supporting Wales’ Health Boards to establish and operate vaccination centres. In Scotland 90 medics and management staff make up the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force, ready to deploy across Scotland at short notice. 24 logistic support staff, mainly from the Edinburgh-based 3rd Battalion The Rifles, are assisting health boards run vaccination centres in Grampian, Dumfries and Galloway, Borders and Lothian.

From April, 100 defence medics will support Department of Health Northern Ireland with the vaccine rollout.

Defence have also helped to deliver vaccines to overseas territories, including to Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and Ascension Island.

Medically trained personnel are supporting the delivery of vaccines if needed by the NHS.
Medically trained personnel are supporting the delivery of vaccines if needed by the NHS. MOD Crown Copyright.

Support to hospitals

Hundreds of defence medics deployed to hospitals across the UK to work in intensive care units and other patient facing roles, providing vital care alongside health professionals, to help relieve pressure on the NHS and Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Services. The defence medics joined the 1,600 personnel embedded within the NHS on a long term basis.

In addition, thousands of general duties personnel supported in non-clinical roles, including porter duties, to help free up NHS staff for clinical roles.

Defence medics deployed to hospitals across the UK.
Defence medics deployed to hospitals across the UK. MOD Crown Copyright.

Assisting with the National Testing Effort

The UK Armed Forces have been supporting the government’s efforts to increase national testing capacity and support local authorities to get tests to those who need them. Defence have supported testing programmes in Birmingham, Nottingham, Merthyr Tydfil, Liverpool, Kent, Manchester and in Scotland.

320 military personnel are currently deployed to support community testing in Scotland.

Armed Forces personnel deployed in Derbyshire are assisting with community testing.
Armed forces personnel deployed in Derbyshire are assisting with community testing. MOD Crown Copyright.

Hundreds of military personnel who were assisting with the testing of hauliers in Kent travelling to France have now handed over to civilian contractors. Around 320 armed forces personnel initially deployed on Christmas Eve and worked around the clock to keep freight moving.

Three men standing around in the dark in high vis jackets holding COVID testing kits.
Military personnel supported the testing of hauliers in Kent. Copyright BFBS.

The military also supported the Department for Education to roll out testing to schools and colleges in England in January. The majority of personnel were in local response teams, providing virtual support and phone advice to institutions needing guidance on the testing process. Teams were also on standby to deploy at short notice to provide in-person support.

Scientists based at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have been supporting and working with Public Health England to increase testing capacity nationwide, up to 7,000 tests per day can be processed at the Porton Down site.

Planning Support for Local Authorities

The UK Armed Forces have deployed dozens of military planners across the UK. Working with Local Resilience Forums and Partnerships and alongside the Emergency Co-ordination Centres in Scotland and Wales, they are providing additional expert resource to support local communities and businesses and to roll out tracing systems.

Other support

Military personnel are also supporting ambulance trusts including the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, with 94 medics and drivers. In the North West, around 120 personnel supported the North West Ambulance Service across Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Lancashire. Around 50 armed forces personnel are working with the South East Coast Ambulance Service and around 40 supported the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

Defence are supporting the Cabinet Office to tackle disinformation and hostile state narratives which seek to undermine the UK’s reputation. All work is internationally focused.

Members of the Armed Forces standing in a room receiving first aid training, listening to a man at the front demonstrate.
UK Armed Forces personnel including medics and drivers are supporting the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust. MOD Crown Copyright.

Related information

For more information please visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do guidance page on

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However, if you have any symptoms you should self-isolate at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19, click here to arrange.