Security experts call for 'national resilience force'

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the UK is currently woefully unprepared for national-scale disasters and needs a new 'civil resilience force' to bolster preparedness. This is the view of business group, Resilience First. Educating citizens and fulfilling new compliance requirements for business could also be considered in a forthcoming UK Government’s Integrated Review, the group suggests.

Senior RUSI research fellow in Modern Deterrence, Military Sciences, Elisabeth Braw (pictured) says COVID-19 has exposed a dangerous gap in preparedness.

“National resilience is important because without it we are completely exposed to calamities heading our way either from mother nature or from our adversaries. For military aggression the UK is very well prepared but below that threshold we are underprepared,” she said.

“A lack of forward thinking and planning has been exposed by COVID-19. Our adversaries will have noted this and are ready to exploit it. It is just unsustainable for the wider public in the UK to have been so unprepared as they were for the impact of COVID-19.”

Braw believes there are other ways to bolster national security than just joining the armed services. "We need a reserve for other critical functions as well. It would be a phenomenal resource allowing the government to surge in a crisis. We need to view the public as a crisis resource not a burden that the government needs to look after.”

“Young people could be selected for their talent and skills with resilience training between their A levels and university including first aid, survival skills and disaster preparedness. This would create a critical mass of the population who could act as a surge resource for first responders.”

Commenting on the scope of the government’s ongoing Integrated Review, Alex Ellis CMG, Deputy National Security Adviser, Cabinet Office, added: "The Integrated Review will define the Government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy, setting out the way in which we will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation.

“It will set a strong direction for recovery from COVID-19, at home and overseas, so that together we can “build back better. Increasing our collective domestic resilience will of course be a key consideration of the review as a whole."

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