A Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has warned Sitrep that an overreliance on the Armed Forces in the response to the coronavirus would be “dangerous and naive”.
This week has seen a further spread in the UK, with many now anticipating a greater role for the Armed Forces in the country’s response.
But, on this week’s episode of Sitrep Elisabeth Braw warned against turning to the military as the “default option”.
“It’s dangerous and naive to think that the Armed Forces will always be available to help us with these sorts of contingencies that are really not the primary responsibility of the armed forces,” she said.
It has already been speculated that the Army could be asked to support the police in the event of a major outbreak, should there be civil disorder.
Braw argues that this kind of prioritising of responsibility has made us “complacent”.
“No Western government is big enough to always be available to help everybody, and so with severe weather events increasing and with non-kinetic attacks increasing, I think it is naive to assume the Armed Forces will always be available.”
She argues that to avoid stretching the Armed Forces any further the solution is creating a “critical mass of people...to plug into the blue light services and the Armed Forces as a sort of a local level response force”.
This kind of public involvement would mean less pressure on the military. Braw sees the easiest way of achieving this being through “resilience training for teenagers”. This 'national service' could mean a more comprehensive response from the government in times of crisis.
“They would learn crisis response, so what you do when contingencies happen, whether it be a severe cyberattack that for example, leads to an extended power cut, or whether it be a severe weather event or whether it be the combination of such events.”
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Cover image: MOD.