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Apr 18 2020

Allied Nations Support COVID-19 Battle, weekly roundup

MONS, Belgium – In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, NATO continues to deliver credible deterrence and defence. Our ability to conduct operations has not been undermined, our forces remain ready, and our crucial work goes on.

“Allies continue to stand close together and support each other, especially during these trying times, and we do so through different NATO arrangements, and we’ve done so and will continue to do so via bilateral arrangements,” said Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod D. Wolters.

I truly believe that this pandemic has brought us closer together

The recently installed NATO COVID-19 Task Force continues to coordinate military support to ensure NATO and NATO Allies use its military resources most effectively. To date, military forces from across the Alliance have flown more than 100 missions to transport medical personnel, supplies, and treatment capabilities, facilitated the construction of 25 field hospitals, added more than 25,000 treatment beds, and over 4,000 military medical personnel have been deployed in support of civilian efforts.

The Alliance member nations, that held their first virtual Defence Ministerial meeting on April 15, were encouraged to make their capabilities available to the COVID-19 Task Force in order to continue coordination in an effective way. The Task Force is determined to use NATO’s experience, planning capabilities, expertise in coordinating and executing large-scale operations around the world and preparedness, to work together during the pandemic.

Again this week, there have been many examples that display Alliance unity in aiding one another. “Our shared values across all of the NATO Alliance are what keeps us going through these difficult times. I truly believe that this pandemic has brought us closer together,” said General Wolters. Here are some highlights of what many Allied nations’ armed forces are doing to support relief efforts:

Albania: State reserves continue to assemble food aid packages for thousands of families in need and deliver them door-to-door. 

State reserves in Albania continue to assemble food aid packages for distribution during the COVID-19 crisis  – Photo by the Albanian Ministry of Defence

Belgium: Carpenters from the 6th General Support Company of the 11th Battalion Engineering from Burcht built a movable partition in the Burns Center of Neder-Over-Heembeek. The Queen Astrid Military Hospital asked for a separation wall to separate COVID-19 patients from others during their hospitalization at the Burn Center. Military engineers also built a facility for the sterilization of used protective clothing. Furthermore, the Belgian Armed Forces helped American citizens return home with a repatriation flight from Mali.

Bulgaria: The Bulgarian Military Medical Academy donated 200 N95 masks to local doctors in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Meantime, a military plane has delivered masks, suits and diagnostic kits from China to Sofia. The NATO-supported Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) made the flight possible.  Meantime, Bulgaria is supporting the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia with locally produced kits of medical clothing and masks for better protection against the coronavirus.

A military plane delivers masks, suits and diagnostic kits to Bulgaria in response to the COVID-19 crisis on Friday, April 17, 2020.  The flight was made possible by the NATO-supported Strategic Airlift Capability – Photo by NATO HQ

Canada: The Canadian government is sending more troops to the province of Quebec to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the north. Military personnel are building medical infrastructure and installing tents. 24,000 regular and reserve forces are ready to deploy and 10 units across the country are set to react immediately to any request for assistance whether it be humanitarian, delivering supplies or other actions.

Croatia: The Croatian military is providing their Air Force’s helicopters, which will be adapted to transport patients infected with the coronavirus. The crisis management team has an adapted Mi-171 helicopter at its disposal and it’s planned that another Mi-171Sh helicopter will be adapted for the purpose of transport of COVID-19 patients.

Czech Republic: 360 Soldiers are supporting the operations of social service / elderly care homes.

Estonia: Estonia has sent 60,000 masks to Italy and Spain. It is also providing 30,000 masks, disinfection material and 100,00 EUR to The International Red Cross for the fight against COVID-19.

France: Military personnel are distributing masks, assisting in the delivery of medical equipment and providing security services. Over 3,500 health professionals have received personal protection equipment. They are also working with civilian teams organising COVID-19 patients in hospitals and in the transfer of 143 intensive care patients.  Furthermore, the amphibious helicopter carrier Mistral delivered food and medical equipment to Mayotte and Antilles.

French Armed Forces secure a distribution and supply distribution point for protective equipment for medical personnel. More than 3,500 health professionals have been able to obtain supplies thanks to the establishment of this site. – Photo by Armee de Terre

Germany: Germany provided the United Kingdom with 60 mobile ventilators. Meantime, the Bundeswehr has received around 400 requests for support from around the nation and military doctors are giving advice on different health-related topics to the general public. Furthermore, the Bundeswehr Medical services are sharing essential medical equipment with civilian hospitals - providing a clinic in Munich with a CT, Computed Tomography scanner that is being used to reduce the usage of the existing CT equipment.

Greece: Collected and distributed medical supplies in a military hospital and camps in the Northern Greece. The Hellenic National Defence General Staff has also issued a series of strict measures against COVID-19.

Italy: Italian military hospitals continue increasing bed counts, including intensive care available for civilians. The Army transported necessary materials for the construction of a temporary sanitary area in Turin and continues with decontamination efforts throughout the country. In Sabaudia, soldiers are distributing tablets to students that will allow them to continue their studies via e-learning. Meantime, the Italian Air Force transported protective masks from Malpensa to Fiumicino. Furthermore, Italy hosted a video conference call between the Kosovo and Serbia Health Ministers on the COVID-19 crisis.

Italian soldiers are distributing electronic devices in Sabaudia, which will allow students to continue their studies via e-learning – Photo by Esercito Italiano

Latvia: Latvia’s National Guard and local police are training together to provide security during the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring public order and safety throughout the region.  Furthermore, the National Defence Military Facilities and Procurement Centre has signed contracts worth three million euros for the supply of masks and respirators.

Lithuania: The US Embassy in Vilnius has delivered equipment to Lithuania's Health Emergency Situation Centre. The equipment was procured through the US EUCOM Humanitarian Assistance Program. Meantime, 200 military personnel are assisting at border crossing points and other points of entry while military transport aircraft are being used to deliver PPE and testing equipment.

Luxembourg: Luxembourg is supporting Lithuania during the COVID-19 crisis by transporting medical supplies from Zhengzhou (China) to Vilnius by using Luxembourgish aircraft.

Montenegro: The Armed Forces of Montenegro support state institutions directly to fight the pandemic. They provide chemical, biological and radiological decontamination services in multiple locations as well as through mobile teams. The Armed Forces continue to provide security in areas of quarantine.

Netherlands: HNLMS Karel Doorman, the biggest ship in the Royal Netherlands Navy, equipped with enhanced medical facilities, 2 Air Force transport helicopters and an additional Marine Corps unit, in total some 200 men and women, has deployed to the Caribbean to provide support in the West. At home, over 300 Dutch military personnel are working in a number of civilian capacities including the National Crisis Structure, national civil ICU planning as well as hospitals throughout the country. The ministry of defence has also supplied 71 ventilators, 2 x-ray machines, 6 anesthesia machines and 152 field beds for childcare. Furthermore Volkel AB will be responsible for helicopter transport of patients throughout the Netherlands while the Royal military police are working with border control, enforcing travel restrictions.

North Macedonia: Their Army is supporting civilian authorities throughout the pandemic to strengthen the fight against COVID-19, including helping control border and setting up and maintaining checkpoints. The armed forces also provided specialized teams for biological and chemical defence to disinfect public areas as well as engineering experts to aid in clinical set up. (According to the North Macedonia government website.)  Navy resources have also been made available for quarantines in the cities of Sutomore and Igalo.

Norway: The Norwegian government allocated 30 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for their humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poland: Poland has sent a truckload of disinfectants to Spain. 15 Polish doctors, including soldiers, have assisted doctors in Italy’s Lombardy region most affected by the pandemic. Meantime, container/collapsible housing units, commonly known as CHU's by the soldiers who have called them home, are being prepared for use as emergency rooms by the Polish armed forces. 19 tons of personal protective materials was transported from Turkey to Poland. Furthermore, 14 million masks, 300,000 protective suits and a mask maker machine were delivered to Warsaw airport thanks to arrangements made by Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS). 

14 million masks, 300,000 protective sets and a mask maker machine arrived at Warsaw airport April 16, 2020 to support Poland’s efforts against ‪‬COVID-19. The flight was arranged by the Strategic Airlift International Solution. – Photo by NATO support and Procurement Agency

Portugal: The Portuguese Air Force is supporting patients with urgent medical transport meantime the army has trained 260 military personnel to help disinfect infrastructures to assist in combatting COVID-19.

Romania: Specialists from the Research Agency for Military Technologies, Military Hospital and from the County Emergency Hospital cooperate to develop the first mechanical ventilator while soldiers decontaminate a field hospital to continue treating COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, the Romanian Air Force is transporting 45 tons of equipment including 100,000 protective suits into the country with daily flights from Frankfurt to Bucharest.

Slovakia: 1,500 Soldiers are assisting in testing for COVID-19 as well as aiding in security measures throughout the country. Furthermore, they are helping with the distribution of medical supplies to municipalities and medical facilities throughout the country.

Slovenia: Members of the Armed Forces Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear units are using their expertise in helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus throughout the country.

Slovenia's Armed Forces Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear units are using their expertise in helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
- Photo by Slovenia's Ministry of Defence

Spain: The Spanish Army’s Corps of Engineers are building field hospitals and bridges. Meantime, the Armed Forces have transported over 90 tons of medical equipment throughout the country as well as 10 tons of donated products for the food bank in Seville and various entities in Madrid. They are also decontaminating nursing homes.  Furthermore, a Military Emergency Unit acquired certification to conduct tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19, while the Air Force made their seventh international flight to acquire sanitary material.

Turkey: The country has repatriated 25000 citizens from 70 countries. Protective face masks, protective eye masks, overalls and anti-bacterial fluids were sent to Italy and Spain in a Turkish Armed Forces A400M.

United Kingdom: Over 2500 UK Armed Forces personnel are deployed as part of the COVID Support Force. The RFA Argus will be able to support territories in the Caribbean if required, soldiers have set up five recovery centres in Cumbria and a new testing centre for critical workers at Glasgow Airport, RAF helicopters are supporting the Scottish Ambulance service while Ghurkas delivered materials to build NHS Nightingale in Birmingham.

United States: The U.S. donated personal protective equipment for health workers in North Macedonia who are on the front lines against COVID-19. Meantime, the U.S. Army has mobilised eight Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces to the New York area to support the coronavirus relief efforts and curb the spread of disease.

Following Spain’s request to NATO‘s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EARDCC) the Czech Republic, Turkey, Germany, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland have provided Spain with medical equipment.

Additionally, in Afghanistan, NATO supports Afghan security forces and institutions tackling the global COVID-19 pandemic by delivering supplies, including medical and cleaning material, sanitizers and personal protective equipment. In Kosovo, Kosovo Force (KFOR) Italian Carabinieri are assisting communities in need amidst the COVID-19 emergency. The KFOR Multinational Specialized Unit has distributed over 50 donations of food and clothes worth 70,000 Euro to 14 municipalities in the country. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, U.S. Army and NATO HQ in Sarajevo personnel delivered medical supplies and disinfectants in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.  Furthermore, NATO's Deputy Secretary General debriefed the EU Political and Security Committee on NATO's Foreign and Defence Ministers meetings on COVID-19.

The Italian-led Multinational Specialized Unit deployed with the NATO-led KFOR mission has delivered more than 50 donations of food and clothing worth €70,000 to 14 Kosovo municipalities, in coordination with local charities and the Red Cross of Kosovo – Photo by NATO’s Kosovo Force

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.

For more information on NATO's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, check out NATO's Fact Sheet here.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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