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New inquiry: Defence’s contribution to the UK’s pandemic response

14 May 2020

The Defence Committee is today launching an inquiry into the nature of the Armed Forces’ contribution to the ongoing effort against the coronavirus pandemic.

The 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.

Chair's comments 

Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, said:

“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest and most immediate threat this country currently faces. This inquiry will investigate the integral role of military organisations at times of acute crises such as these.

“Alongside others, the Armed Forces have helped lead the charge and fought on the frontline in our battle against this devastating, destructive and invisible enemy. From helping to build the Nightingale hospitals, to facilitating testing, the Armed Forces have been unhesitating and unwavering in their contribution to the heroic effort against coronavirus.

“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.”

Evidence 

The Committee will hear evidence on a number of issues covering:

  • The Armed Forces’ resilience and UK preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic
  • The role of the UK Armed Forces in supporting civilian authorities in the response to coronavirus and national resilience more generally
  • Evaluation of Defence contributions to specific activities/requirements during Covid-19 response
  • How the MoD has ensured that adversaries do not take advantage of crisis in the short-term

The full terms of reference will be published on Committee’s website.

This inquiry will not be examining the longer-term implications of the pandemic for UK Defence. The Committee will look to address these in due course.

Form of written evidence

Submissions should be no longer than 3,000 words. The main body of any submission should use numbered paragraphs. Each submission should contain: 

  • a short summary, perhaps in bullet point form; 
  • a brief introduction about the person or organisation submitting evidence, for example explaining their area of expertise or experience; 
  • any factual information from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses; 
  • any recommendations for action by the Government or others which the submitter would like the Committee to consider for inclusion in its report to the House. 

Submissions should be in malleable format such as MS Word (not PDFs) with no use of colour or logos. Guidance on submitting written evidence and data protection information is available here: Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for submissions 

The Committee is asking for initial written evidence to be submitted through the Committee’s web portal by midnight 15 June 2020.

It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons which outlines particulars of word count, format, document size, and content restrictions. 

Diversity 

We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses. 

Further information

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