‘The army is gearing to deploy on British streets for up to six months to help in the coronavirus crisis.
A note issued by the head of the Armed Forces, General Sir Nicholas Carter, called on the military to step up its preparations to come to the country’s aid.
In the message, sent to senior officers and seen by the BBC, General Carter said troops must be ready to help civilian emergency services, including by setting up ‘temporary hospitals’.
He wrote: ‘The indications are that this disease will spike around late May and early June.
‘We are prepared for our collective posture to be on operational footing by mid-April, recognising this could endure for six months or so.’
Around 20,000 members of the armed forces are already on high readiness to help the police and civil authorities.
The note said troops ‘must be prepared to start contingency planning for MACA (Military Assistance to Civilian Authorities) tasks beyond those specified for the military support force, including for example, the organisation of temporary hospitals’.
As well as helping to tackle the coronavirus crisis General Carter said that the armed forces will still fulfil their duty to protect Britain, ‘recognising that times of national emergency are also opportunities for those who wish to undermine our way of life’.
He adds: ‘This is a time for leaders to step and deliver. As I have often said in the past – we need to be prepared to fight the way we may have to fight and it is now clear that moment has arrived.’
Members of the Army Reserve are among those being put on high readiness to help the police and other emergency services as the full brunt of the pandemic hits.’
Read more: Troops given four weeks to prepare for war on coronavirus: British Army is set to be on streets for up to six months as 20,000 military personnel are already on standby to help emergency services and build temporary hospitals