Switzerland’s conscript army is fighting on a new front, providing logistical help in the battle with Covid-19. It’s responsible for the transportation and safe storage of all vaccines, which are kept in secret armed forces installations. The first vaccines have already been delivered to the cantons. Up to 2,500 soldiers are being deployed from now to the end of March.
Health services in dire need can also request back up from civil protection units that support the army. Swiss men who don’t perform compulsory military or civilian service often end up doing civilian protection activities including helping out in the event of disasters, offering security at major events and performing general community tasks.
The government has committed civil protection staff to 500,000 days of service until the end of March. In October 2020, the period of compulsory civil protection service was increased from 12 to 14 years, to ensure enough personnel are available in the pandemic.
The cantons are responsible for deploying civil protection staff where they are most needed. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they have been deployed to help with contact tracing, virus screening, looking after logistics and helping set up reception centres in hospitals.