March 19, 2021
The Military in the Time of COVID-19: Versatile, Vulnerable, and Vindicating
Since the eruption of the world’s latest pandemic, COVID-19 in December 2019, militaries throughout the world have taken on a variety of unfamiliar domestic tasks—an arena which is usually reserved for internal security forces. In Peru the military called upon 16,000 reservists to help fight the pandemic—an exceptional move that did not even occur during the fight against the rebel group Sendero Luminoso in the 1980s. The Italian military found itself driving truckloads of deceased COVID-19 victims to mortuaries, provoking questions about possible post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). In Spain, the military has also drawn international attention, not only for its assistance in imposing national lockdowns, but moreover for the revealing uniforms, with deep v-neck shirts and leather suspenders. This prompted both comments from mainly female writers, reflecting on the physical attraction of the male soldiers, and a deeper and more critical discussion on the role of the Spanish military during the civil war and the succeeding dictatorship.