Our poll asked ‘Can NATO do more to support its members through Covid-19?’ 77% of respondents said yes, whereas 24% said it was doing enough.
Since the outbreak was declared a pandemic, NATO has been coordinating the transport of supplies across member states using its Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) and Strategic Airlift Capability and Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) programmes.
Member states have also assisted each other in the transportation of patients from hard-hit countries to those with more hospital capacity, and sending medical personnel across the bloc to aid in the response. NATO has also assisted in repatriation flights to get the citizens of member states back to their home countries.
NATO’s EADRCC operated 24/7 to coordinate requests from member states for aid and offers of assistance to help. NATO says its heavy-lift capability ‘ensures the timely transport of critical supplies from around the world’.
In a press conference, NATO Secretary-General Jen Stoltenberg said: “NATO has been responding since the beginning of the crisis. Implementing preventive measures, assuring the continuation of our operations and assisting Allies in combating the virus.
“NATO Foreign Ministers met two weeks ago. They asked our top military commander, SACEUR [Supreme Allied Commander Europe], to set up a task force to step up and speed up military support to allies in response to the pandemic.
“Allies are cooperating to airlift critical supplies from across the globe. Hundreds of tons of medical equipment have been donated and delivered. Allies are sharing medical expertise and spare hospital capacity.”
Despite readers believing NATO has not done enough, the organisation has been widely praised for its response to the pandemic. GlobalData analysts said: “NATO has efficiently provided and coordinated the delivery of medical equipment and aid to member states in order to help combat the coronavirus crisis.”
Slovakia-based global think tank Globsec told Army Technology that while international cooperation was working well there could be room for expansion of these activities.
Globsec Policy Institute Director Alena Kudzko told Army Technology: “Coordination of national efforts to combat the pandemic and efforts by militaries to assist domestically and internationally is underway but there is scope for further expansion.
“Existing NATO structures and mechanisms are being used to coordinate logistical, transport, and medical help. NATO’s EADRCC is its principal disaster response mechanism and coordinates national requests for assistance.”
Kudzko added that the pandemic could be an opportunity for NATO to strengthen its cooperation with other international organisations such as the European Union.
Kudzko said: “NATO’s SALIS programmes are already in use to deliver medical supplies, including those originating from Asian countries. The cooperation also includes, for example, opening fast-track paths through airspace for military aircraft carrying medical supplies or transporting patients from one European country to another.
“Combatting pandemics and bio-threats is an area where international organisations can complement each other and fill gaps in responses, highlighting both the need for and the potential of NATO-EU cooperation.