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 Apr 4 2020

Allied Nations Support COVID-19 Battle, weekly roundup

MONS, Belgium - NATO’s primary responsibility is to continue delivering credible and effective deterrence and defence for over a billion people by operating and working together. This is and has been the case for 71-years and will be in the future. At the same time, it is equally important to stand together in solidarity in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic the world is facing.

The aim of this weekly roundup is to highlight some of the excellent work Allied nations are doing to support their local communities as well as one another in solidarity to counter this global pandemic. 

We've implemented prudent measures to reduce the exposure and transmission of coronavirus to or from our forces, family members, and home stations

“The health of our forces is vitally important to maintaining readiness to deter and defend our homelands,” said Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Tod D. Wolters. “We've implemented prudent measures to reduce the exposure and transmission of coronavirus to or from our forces, family members, and home stations.”

At the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on April 2nd, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) directed General Wolters to coordinate the necessary military support to combat the coronavirus crisis.

General Wolters designated Lieutenant General Olivier Rittimann as the head of the Allied Command Operations Task Force to combat coronavirus. Lieutenant General Rittimann, a French Army officer with more than 35 years of military service, currently serves at the Vice Chief of Staff of Allied Command Operations.

“As part of NATO’s work to strengthen resilience, Allied Command Operations (ACO) has worked with our Allies for a generation to enhance preparedness for all eventualities. We are now applying these capabilities throughout the Alliance during the coronavirus pandemic,” said General Rittimann.

There have been many examples this week that display this unity and preparedness to boost our activities aiding one another. Some of these include the multinational cooperation to airlift crucial supplies to the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and Slovakia, NATO’s delivery of field hospital tents to Luxembourg, the US medical deliveries to Italy.

We are also seeing medical care cross borders. Hospitals with spare capacity in Germany have taken patients from Italy and France, and doctors have travelled from Albania and Poland to help their Italian colleagues.

Over the course of the week here have been a growing number of activities from the Allied nations armed forces supporting each other and their governments. Here are some highlights of what many Allied nations are doing to support the fight against COVID-19:

Albania: Hundreds of Albanian young women of the armed forces are patrolling the communities advising citizens on the protective measures against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. A number of Albanian doctors are assisting Italy in support of the Italian hospitals.

Belgium: Belgian Defence Forces provided support at the request of the federal government to increase COVID-19 testing capacities. They also delivered disinfectant liquid to hospitals and deployed military ambulances and personnel to transport patients in need of intensive care.

Bulgaria: Bulgarian armed forces are assisting the civilian authorities with controlling the movement of people amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Canada: Canadian armed forces are preparing and planning for a large-scale set of supporting measures in case the coronavirus spreads across Canada and its ranks. Already some 24,000 troops are mobilized into immediate reaction units to respond to local requests for assistance, such as providing humanitarian support, wellness checks and assisting coastal communities.

Croatia: Croatian government aircraft with Croatian and German military medical teams support Lithuania and Croatia with medical equipment and expertise.

Czech Republic: Czech Republic Armed forces helped to supply hospitals with 40,000 pieces of protective equipment, respirators, suits, gloves and goggles, supported a COVID-19 call centre manned by future military doctors and helped with border checks.

Denmark: Denmark Military of Defence provided extra support for veterans during the crisis and purchased an increased number of sealed pods to help transport COVID-19 patients.

Estonia: Estonian armed forces have set up a field hospital on the island of Saaremaa, in order to reduce the strain on the medical facilities in the entire Baltic region.

Germany: German military equipment is being used to transport COVID-19 cases from various Allied countries to German hospitals. Having transported medical supplies to Romania earlier, they have set up a dedicated COVID-19 military manned call centre. Around 15,000 soldiers in the German armed forces are involved in the support to the pandemic.

France: French armed forces are helping to transport COVID-19 patients to hospitals in Germany, deliver masks and other health equipment to local hospitals, reorganizing a number of army training hospitals for COVID-19 patients, using military equipment to evacuate patients into French hospitals and naval (afloat) facilities.

Hungary: Hungarian armed forces have deployed a special military task force to support and monitor some 140 state companies providing critical services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Italy: Italian armed forces continue to transport and deliver personal protective – and medical equipment by land – and air assets. Setting up advanced medical posts and helping transport COVID-19 patients and casualties. More than 19,000 women and men of the Italian armed forces are deployed daily all over Italy. With 245 land vehicles, 70 helicopters and 7 aircraft, they are working 24/7 to support the civil population.

Latvia: National armed forces are providing support to the State Border Guard patrolling the various borders.

Luxembourg: In support of the government, NATO has helped increase the hospital capacity to fight COVID-19. The NSPA, based in Luxembourg are coordinating and helping the NATO Strategic Air lift capability (SALIS) transporting critical medical equipment towards a number of Allied nations in Europe.

Montenegro: Montenegrin armed forces are supporting the local government by disinfecting critical installations.

The Netherlands: Dutch armed forces medical staff is augmenting hospitals across the country, heavy equipment is being used to transport COVID-19 patients for efficient use of Intensive Care capabilities, setting up a number of field hospitals in the Caribbean in support of local hospitals and assisting local and Belgian authorities with border inspections.

North Macedonia: Armed forces in North Macedonia constructed a role-2 (advanced) field hospital in support of civil authorities in the fight against COVID-19.

Norway: Norwegian Defence research institute supports the capacity of Norwegian hospitals. Defence forces’ transport aircraft are being utilized to transport 45 tonnes of medical equipment to Romania.

Poland: Around 8,500 military personnel are assisting the Polish border guards and police to deliver medical supplies to hospitals and bring food and medications to the elderly and those quarantined throughout the country.

Portugal: Portuguese armed forces are supporting civilian hospitals by converting old military hospitals for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Romania: Romanian armed forces are setting up triage tents in support of the Country Emergency clinical hospital in Cluj-Napoca, including a mobile hospital. They have set up and are manning a dedicated COVID-19 call centre for veterans and military families seeking help. The Romanian military is also supporting police patrols and heavy equipment is being used to transport necessary materials in support of ongoing medical installation works.

Slovakia: Armed forces in Slovakia have started to help police units with (border) patrols and render general assistance to the population.

Slovenia: Slovenian armed forces are setting up medical treatment facilities in the capital Ljubljana and have received 200,000 masks from the Czech Republic.

Spain: Spanish armed forces are disinfecting hospitals and critical installations. They have used military aircraft to receive respirators from Germany, set up numerous field hospitals and are supporting in the transport of COVID-19 patients and casualties.

Turkey: Turkey has sent medical supplies to Romania and in response to the activation of NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (NDRCC) in Italy, has sent critical medical equipment to Italy and Spain. The Ministry of National Defence is distributing essential goods to civilian over 65 years of age and veterans.

United States: The United States has sent medical supplies to Italy and other Allied countries. Some 18,500 troops from various units in the armed forces and the National Guard are mobilized in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in the US. They have, amongst other support, set up a 24 hours state emergency operations centre to coordinate all activities across all states. They are working with the army to increase medical capacity, supporting warehouse operations and logistical efforts to help deliver critical supplies, helping deliver food in hard-hit communities, and supporting symptoms screening and testing facilities across the nation.

United Kingdom: British Armed Forces helped build a new temporary NHS hospital in London and are standing by to build another two hospitals in Birmingham and Manchester. They have helped convert the Glasgow hospital into a temporary NHS hospital for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. British Army personnel have also helped deliver, so far, some 7.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment to hospitals staff across the country. Heavy military equipment air, land and maritime, are being utilized for evacuation, repatriation and transportation purposes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, NATO is constantly assessing and adapting. In order to respond, we must continue to stand together, work together and support each other. Allied Command Operations is adapting to the COVID-19 crisis in order to prioritize mission critical activities and sustain the readiness that maintains deterrence.

Allies remain committed to their contributions to NATO including our contributions to the Multinational Battle Groups in the East of the alliance, NATO Air Policing, our maritime deployments and our missions from Afghanistan to Kosovo. NATO’s ability to conduct operations has not been undermined. Our forces remain ready and our crucial work safeguarding Allied nations and partners endures.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

The Latvian National Guard 1. Riga Brigade installs the expandable medical infrastructure in the territory of the Evangelical Christian Church "Blue Cross", providing one expandable tent with lighting and heating elements.Photo: Armin Janiks (Ministry of Defence).
A C-17 Globemaster cargo plane, part of the NATO-managed Strategic Airlift Capability, lands at Bucharest airport with 45 tons of supplies to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. -Photo by Adrian Sultanoiu
Spanish troops deployed in response to COVID-19 carry beds for use at a field hospital as part of Spanish Operation Balmis. Operation “Balmis” involves more than 2,500 troops from the Spanish Army, Navy, Air Force, Military Emergencies Unit and the Royal Guard deployed in 172 locations throughout Spain in response to COVID-19. 
An Antonov AN-124 plane arrives at Bratislava airport with 48 tons of medical material to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and is unloaded by Slovak soldiers. (The cargo aircraft is part of the NATO managed Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) programme).
Albanian Soldiers conduct community patrols as part of the countries COVID-19 defence protocols. Hundreds of Albanian Armed Forces young ladies and women are in the terrain as part of the community patrol. - Photo courtesy of Albanian Defence Forces
Over 19,000 women and men of the Italian armed forces are deployed daily all over Italy in response to COVID-19. - Photo by the Italian Ministry of Department of Defence
Montenegrin soldier disinfecting hospitals in the country - Photo by Montenegro Department of Defence
Turkey bringing critical medical supplies to Italy and Spain. - Photo by the Turkish Department of Defence

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