British Army urged to use Iraq War experience to help track and trace effort against Covid

Tom Tugendhat says army should have helped with track and trace

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and a former army officer, explained how British troops used a version of the track and trace while hunting insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq. Describing himself as a big fan of “military planning,” the Conservative MP argued that in principle the army could apply the same tactics used in warzones to police the spread of the coronavirus “hotspots” in the UK.

Mr Tugendhat said: “Look I am a big fan of army planning as you can imagine, I think they are pretty good at it. The two things that I would have brought the military in for earlier was for track and trace and for logistics. 

“The two things that the military does exponentially well is planning and intelligence, intelligence is just understanding what is going on. 

“So if you want to do track and trace frankly that is what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq for the best part of ten-years.

“Okay, we did it looking for the Taliban and hotspots of insurgents but the principle applies just as equally to hotspots of disease or hotspots of anything else.” 

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“So using the Intelligence Corp to help to understand the spread of disease is actually a pretty good use of them.”

Asked by host James Whale if had put the idea to the “powers that be” in Government, Mr Tugendhat replied: “I have and the Intelligence Corp was brought in a few weeks ago to help with some of the data.

“But I wish it had been done about sooner.”

He added that RAF aircraft have been used to airlift supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine to the British territory of Gibraltar.  

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The call comes as hospitals called for “immediate additional staff” to help relieve the pressure on their wards.

In London, NHS chiefs have laid out plans to redistribute hospital staff across units.

The documents, obtained by the Independent, listed non-clinical employees carrying out duties such as running equipment, helping patients eat and keeping track of patient details.

He added: “We have more than 30,000 severely ill coronavirus patients in hospitals across England.

“This is a very serious moment for the country and for the National Health Service.”

But other places in England have reported concerns over surging coronavirus figures.

On Monday, hospitals in Cheshire were described as “overwhelmed” by the critical care network.

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