Brunssum, The Netherlands, Wednesday 27 May 2020
Protecting military and civilian staff deployed to NATO-led missions remains paramount for the Alliance. In response to the Corona pandemic, troops operating as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) Mission in Afghanistan continue to apply preventative measures in accordance with the World Health Organization guidelines, including hand-washing, physical distancing, wearing facemasks and avoiding large gatherings. Additionally, COVID-19 testing capacity within the RS Mission is being upgraded. The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has facilitated the delivery of an additional COVID-19 testing laboratory, and deployed three medical technicians. Increasing secretion test capacity allows medical professionals to more quickly identify infections, limit the spread of the disease and start immediate medical care for those infected. Testing is available for all personnel serving under the 38-nation mission, including service-members, civilians, contractors and Afghan workers living on Resolute Support bases. Australia, Norway, and the United States have contributed funding and capabilities to increase the mission's testing capacity.
Yesterday, representatives of both the United States military and NATO Headquarters Sarajevo donated critical supplies and medical equipment to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The donation was delivered to the Ministry of Health of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It included thermometers, face shield visors, thousands of masks, hundreds of protective goggles and suits, blankets, pillows and bed linen sets and hundreds of litres of disinfectant. A similar delivery was made last Friday to the Ministry of Health of the Republika Srpska. Both deliveries were initiated in response to Bosnia and Herzegovina's request for assistance through the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), NATO's principle disaster response mechanism. In the past month, the US Embassy Sarajevo's Civil Military Support Element team and NATO provided critical supplies and disinfection equipment to the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Community Health Centres in Tuzla, Bijeljina, Nevesinje, and the Brcko District.
Regular military deployments also continue in the maritime domain in times of Corona. German submarine U 33 has just concluded a deployment of several weeks for NATO in the Eastern Baltic Sea. The submarine has operated under NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) in the past weeks. The patrol was part of the NATO Assurance Measures focused on monitoring the activities in the Baltic Sea. U 33 is one of the first German submarines detached to MARCOM for this purpose. Assurance measures are a sign of the Alliance's cohesion internally and of its strength and readiness externally; they are a pillar of the NATO Readiness Action Plan going back to the 2014 Wales Summit, where the Allies agreed to increase their presence at NATO's eastern flank.
Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office