'Lessons To Be Learned' For Military After Coronavirus Fight

The Defence Secretary has been looking back on the work of the military, ahead of Armed Forces Day 2020.

The UK Defence Secretary has looked forward to a unique Armed Forces Day 2020, which is set to be marked during coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Speaking to Forces News, Ben Wallace put forward the importance of maintaining the "spirit" of the day, despite planned events in Scarborough being pushed to next year.

Behind the scenes filming with the Red Arrows and crew on board HMS Queen Elizabeth were some of the mentioned efforts to deliver the message of Armed Forces Day.

Mr Wallace wants to “give people a flavour” of the operations and support tasks keeping personnel busy both in and outside of the pandemic.

The Defence Secretary also hinted at a flypast over Scarborough on the Saturday.

“If you look skyward, you might see that we’re still tipping a bit of a wing to Scarborough and Armed Forces Day,” he said.

Mr Wallace stressed keeping in mind the veteran community currently self-isolating and the importance of honouring current restrictions.

"We should remember that Armed Forces Day is about a spirit as much as about an event," he said.

Military vehicle on Salisbury Armed Forces Day
Salisbury Armed Forces Day celebrations in 2019.

Regarding the role played by the military in the response to the pandemic, there "hasn’t been a surprise that our Armed Forces could deliver".

The "breadth" of the response across the public sector, however, was deemed a "remarkable success".

However, Mr Wallace added there are still "lessons to be learned" from the past few months.

"Making sure we don't repeat the last fight, but prepare for tomorrow's fight - that's what makes us a successful Armed Forces.

"Of course there's lessons to be learned.

"I think we learn those, however, once we've dealt with the fight, dealt with the crisis," he said, open to the idea of helping other parts of the Government which may need to "move at pace" in the future.

Asked to reflect on the significance of 27 June, the Defence Secretary said: "It means that we put our Armed Forces where it should be in society.

"It should be at the forefront of our society because it’s about duty.

"It’s people who give up their own selfish need for the collective good of this country."

A "two-way" relationship is highlighted on the day, he added, whereby society gives back to the forces by "giving us the recognition and valuing our contribution".

Mr Wallace was content to shift the Scarborough event further along the calendar given the UK is "in exceptional times, dealing with an exceptional event".

"Armed Forces Day is being recognised by our Armed Forces, who right now are contributing over 4,000 people in the fight against this disease," he said.

"We should celebrate that, this year, remember those people who have left us but who are veterans and plan for celebration next year."