Visible contribution: Reservists a key part of society’s resilience

Reservists throughout the NATO alliance have been providing a significant and valued contribution to national efforts to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic. Each country has its own story on how reservists have been used. Here are a few examples.

By: Sqn Ldr (R) Michael Cairns, Royal Air Force/ CIOR Public Affairs

In some, medical reservists have been assisting in uniform while in others, medical reservists have been told to stay working in their vital civilian front line roles. However across the area, which CIOR represents, reserve officers and other ranks have been involved in testing programme delivery, logistics assistance to the civilian authorities and in some countries with security and decontamination functions.

In Germany many Army reservists joined the fight against Covid-19, and alongside regulars delivered some 38,000 surgical masks and almost 50,000 respirator masks around the country. Reservists are also volunteering to take care of shopping for vulnerable members of the community.

In the United States nearly 28,400 National Guard service members continue to fight the coronavirus in the country in a variety of domains. They have been disinfecting public spaces, handing out food, and providing transportation and logistics support.

UK reservists receive training prior to being used as COVID virus testers.

In the UK more than 2,000 reservists from all three services were mobilised in response to the virus outbreak. In addition, a number of other reservists have contributed in ways short of mobilisation, undertaking short periods of related duty.

RAF reservist Geetha Ramesh working at a mobile testing unit.

They have been undertaking a range of tasks. For example, reservists have been involved in helping to transport vital Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) supplies to hospitals and care homes. They have been helping with logistics planning to ensure that equipment is moved efficiently from one location to another, and they helped to set up Nightingale Hospitals (overflow specialist intensive care facilities) around the country.

Many UK Reservists undertook training to test members of the public for the virus at specially established sites in car parks, leisure centres and sport stadia around the country. At these mobile testing centres, reservists from the Royal Air Force and British Army ran and delivered the testing programmes, providing a key picture of how the virus was spreading – and assisting the public with early diagnosis.

In Norway, Home Guard personnel have on request helped the police guard the border and to

control travellers. With limited, temporary police authority they have also turned people away from entering the country.

Other Norwegian reservists have contributed with their competence through their regular civilian functions, most notably medics of all facets.

Norwegian reservists in the Home Guard in service at the border, as requested by the police. Photo: Krister Sørbø/Forsvarets Forum.