The military's unparalleled effort in the vaccination of the United Kingdom has been awe-inspiring. James Gray MP highlights the achievements of the Army, RAF, and Royal Navy, alongside the NHS, in bringing the UK out of the pandemic.

Most people have probably never heard of Operation Rescript. But without it, we would have struggled to respond to the pandemic in the way we have. For that is the code name for the military contribution. Right now there are more than 3,700 personnel deployed, of whom around 3,100 are Army, 400 RAF and 200 Royal Navy. That includes some 200 who are reservists. That is significant in itself, the more so when you consider that over the 11 months so far, a total of 20,000 defence personnel from the three services were drafted in to the Covid Support Force in three main areas: Medics and mass vaccination, mass testing and logistics, and planning support.  

We may not have known what Operation Rescript was; but most people who have been tested or vaccinated will be well aware of it. Vaccination stations up and down the land were planned by the 28 military planners deployed full time on it. And a further 200 military personnel are working across the UK to support the roll-out of the vaccine. Reports I am receiving back from constituents is that the whole process is efficient, comfortable and in every way praise-worthy, and without detracting in any way from the hard work put in by the NHS, local surgeries and vaccination centres, that is thanks in no small part to our armed service people. Whatever the national crisis may be, they are just so good at 'saluting, turning to the right and marching off' to get on with the task at hand. No nonsense; no fuss. Just sound practical common sense and willingness to do their duty, but the military contribution to this rollout is clear: precision and order have been the key.  

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Not only have our Armed Forces personnel been deployed across the UK in support of the pandemic response, but they are also still deployed worldwide doing everything else including a new Army deployment supporting the UN in Mali from December, Continuous At Sea Deterrence from our Royal Navy submarines; and RAF air policing against any possible threat from Russia. Royal Navy vessels including the HMS Queen Elizabeth continue with their operational sea training, counter-Da'esh operations are still in progress, RAF Quick Reaction Alert has been sustained throughout the crisis. It is no mean feat that they have not stepped down any ongoing commitments, just stepped up to provide yet another service without fuss or complaint. 

The pandemic has also affected some of those operations. Under Operation BROADSHARE, Defence has delivered military support to the Caribbean Overseas Territories as well as supported repatriations from overseas. In fact, one of the first items on the Operation BROADSHARE agenda was support given to the Wuhan repatriation flight by the Royal Air Force in January 2020. In 2020 the British Army alone deployed 33,291 soldiers to 82 countries (over 40% of the World's nations), despite the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Our fight against Covid would simply not have been possible without our armed services. We salute them for their willingness, their efficiency and their capability. And we thank them for it.

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