London(ANN)-In a sign the British military is planning to step up its intervention in the coronavirus crisis, a former defence chief has tried to rally the nation by proclaiming the country is at “war” with the virus.
Writing in an op-ed in the Times newspaper, General Nick Houghton, who was chief of the defence staff (i.e. the professional head of the British armed forces) between 2013 and 2016, admitted that the nation’s morale is “suspect”.
“And I question that the nation’s current morale gives us the winning edge we need”, Houghton wrote.
Houhgton’s warning, balanced with a hopeful prediction about eventual “victory”, comes on the heels of a crisis at the top of the British government following the deterioration of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s coronavirus illness.
As part of Operation Rescript, the British military has drawn up extensive plans to intervene should the public health crisis escalate into widescale social and political disorder.
But the current chief of the defence staff, General Nick Carter, tried to de-emphasize the interventionist strand of Operation Rescript in a radio interview.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, General Carter claimed it was “business as usual” for the military whilst the PM is hospitalized with a severe form of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Carter’s attempt to downplay the military’s role is contradicted by reports that all three branches of the military have deployed no less than 2,689 personnel in response to “76 requests” for assistance from multiple government departments and local authorities.
It would appear that as the coronavirus crisis deepens, the military top brass – who have little faith in UK resilience and view British society as inherently fragile – are gradually preparing public opinion for some form of military intervention, albeit a limited one at this stage.