COVID-19 : The New Battle Ground for Defence Forces

The outbreak of the Corona virus pandemic has re-echoed the importance of the civil-military relations in times of humanitarian crisis.

The changing nature of modern conflicts, natural hazards and crisis situations makes dialogue and interaction between civilian and the military ever more relevant epitomized by various forms of civil-military coordination for better results.  Certain humanitarian emergencies such as the ravaging COVID-19 as well as other human disaster situations incidentally require capabilities that are only available with the military community. Such services include: communication support, transport operations management, road construction and repairs, and health delivery services in all their dimensions. Civil-military coordination may also be needed in situations where the humanitarian and civil protection community does not have enough assets or expertise to assist such as strategic airlift, sea transportation and engineers.  Having said all these, it is however important to note that interaction with the military always depends on the context.
COVID-19 has come to reveal another humanitarian face of the Cameroon Defence Forces. It looks like a veritable litmus test for them but from every indication, they are embracing the challenge accordingly as required by the canons of their profession. In a rather well coordinated manner and in military disciplinary style, the Defence Forces have been at the front tackling the fight against the virus from all the necessary angles. Key actions centre on assistance in the transportation and distribution of kits to the population, ensuring the respect of government response measures and production of protective kits, notably facemasks. As one can understand, one of the biggest challenges of the pandemic virus is the discipline of the population. As to whether they are fully aware of the danger hanging over their heads is another issue, but from every indication, people are finding it difficult to part ways with old habits. Despite the increasing number of deaths as a result of the virus, they adamantly refuse to reshape their behavioral pattern.  The consequences have been so telling.
The National Gendarmerie has been in action on our highways stopping transport vehicles, undertaking checks to ensure drivers and passengers wear protective face masks. Cases abound where passengers not adhering to the measures are pulled out and forced to acquire the necessary kits. The municipal police have been mobilized to ensure that inhabitants of urban cities fully respect the measures. The situation became more precarious following the decision to relax some of the measures, notably letting drinking spots operate beyond 6pm. And of course, Cameroonians being what they are, many took upon themselves to abuse the largesse of the government, hence the need to deploy the services of the defence forces.  In the same vein, members of the forces of law and order have been solicited several times to intervene in order to ensure the safe burial of victims of COVID-19. Cases abound where family members and friends are seen fighting over corpses to transport to their villages for burial irrespective of the consequences. The challenge is really huge and the Defence forces must make sure the victory on the COVID-19 battle ground is theirs.

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