Up to 20,000 service personnel will be put on standby to help combat the coronavirus, with troops gearing up to drive oxygen tankers, support the police and boost hospital capacity.
On Thursday, reservists will be put on notice to mobilise if required as part of a war-like effort to prepare the armed forces in case the government calls upon them in large numbers.
Commanders are taking steps to isolate or quarantine personnel on the UK’s most important security missions – such as the ability to respond to a terrorist attack or to protect UK skies from hostile aircraft – to ensure they are not sick.
In addition, all holiday leave has been cancelled for troops deployed on operations overseas, while training exercises in Canada and Kenya have been postponed.
“The men and women of our armed forces stand ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
“The unique flexibility and dedication of the services means that we are able to provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need.
“From me downwards the entirety of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are dedicated to getting the nation through this global pandemic.”