A tri-service reserve force is coming together to help deliver the COVID community testing programme in Greater Manchester.
Army, Navy and RAF reserves have helped bolster UK virus defences throughout the pandemic in the last year, but the latest deployment marks the first time a force of this size, containing only Reservists, has been assigned a bespoke mission.
A total of 82 reserves have been separated into elements according to their service and integrated with a Regular Army unit headquarters already supporting Greater Manchester’s Targeted Testing at Scale project.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I’m proud that Reservists from all three services, many from Manchester itself, have answered the call to step up and support their local community.
“These soldiers, sailors and air personnel have joined the largest UK Armed Forces homeland deployment in peacetime and will be working alongside Greater Manchester Combined Authority to test at-risk members of the community.”
From the Army Reserves, 29 soldiers drawn from 4th Battalion, The Lancashire Regiment, The Queen’s Own Yeomanry and 8th Battalion, The Rifles will be integrated with C Coy, 1st Battalion The Rifles, supporting Oldham Council.
There are 41 RAF Reserves from 611 Squadron integrated with C Squadron, The Royal Lancers in Salford.
Four Royal Naval Reserves and eight Royal Marines Reserves are integrated with Waterloo Company, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland in Trafford.
Colonel Russ Miller, OBE, Commander Army Headquarters North West, said the reserve force will “play an increasingly important part of the project, both carrying on with the delivery of asymptomatic testing, and training each borough’s follow-on workforce to develop testing capability for the longer term”.
The force is expected to carry out its mission until 26 February.
Cover image: Reservists deployed to Greater Manchester (Picture: MOD).