virus molecule with picture of soldiers and a medical person split screen

What armed forces can do

Managing Pandemics

April 2021, Number 11.02

“The pandemic has caused leaders across the globe to turn to their armed forces for support in an ever-expanding range of roles. As the COVID-19 crisis progressed and the tragedy intensified, armed forces assumed roles never before anticipated as countries reached the limits of what their civilian health organizations could provide. These demands are expected to mount even as the crisis abates. The range of roles, missions, tasks and functions of armed forces during this crisis can be placed within six mission sets under the Defense Support to Civil Authority (DSCA) rubric. Decision-makers must contemplate important considerations before asking the armed forces to undertake these roles.

Many of the tasks inherent in the DSCA have been prominent in the demands from political leaders for armed forces support during the pandemic, such as providing essential services (often logistical and medical) as well as search capabilities, decontamination operations and engineering support. For example, armed forces in Italy, Spain, France and the United States, just to name a few, have built and staffed medical facilities, transported virus patients, delivered food supplies, searched buildings for victims, and decontaminated residences and public facilities, such as train stations and airports…”

Excerpt from John L. Clarke, “Managing Pandemics,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 11, No. 2, 2021: 30-35.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.