Indian Army

Why India should give a larger role to military in combating COVID-19

By The Week

Last year, when the United States was battling with the surge of COVID-19 cases, its military docked two naval warships—USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort—on the coasts of New York and Los Angeles. Similarly, France had triggered ‘Operation Resilience’ to respond to the outbreak by involving large number of military personnel.

The Great Britain also launched its biggest ever homeland military operations in peacetime to assist overwhelmed local hospitals treating patients. More controversially, in some parts of Europe, troops were deployed to enforce mandatory lock-downs by patrolling the streets, constructing roadblocks and curbing movement.

Here, in India, from warplanes to warships, armed forces are being deployed to combat the catastrophic second wave of the pandemic. Besides bringing critical medical oxygen and other lifesaving equipments, Indian military has built multiple make-shift field hospitals.

With record number of new COVID-19 patients, the country is facing shortage of medical facilities like hospital, medical oxygen and medical staff.

It is indeed a war-like situation except this time enemy is not China or Pakistan but rather an invisible virus. And experts believe that there is only a minuscule percentage of their (military) capability has been put to use. Only the military health resources (Army medical corps) have been fully engaged and, there are other capacities available with military and those are not being fully utilised. Less than one-tenth capacity of the armed forces is being engaged.

For example, during 2014 flood in Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Army not only provided relief and rescue to the general public, but also made the then chief minister of state, Omar Abdullah to speak to his officials by using military communication network.

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