Military forces are trained to quickly mobilise in crisis situations. Military exercises often simulate public health crises and test armies’ abilities to set up an operation in tough conditions, with limited resources and at short notice. Investments in military readiness and preparedness are proving their worth through armed forces’ contributions, such as building hospitals, transporting supplies, repatriation and evacuation, border management and assisting law enforcement. The capabilities currently deployed by European armies for medical purposes demonstrate the usefulness of pre-emptive research and development investments in strategic defence capabilities. The military response to Covid-19 also showcases how the military can complement civilian efforts not only in healthcare and logistics, but also in social welfare and humanitarian assistance. Such efforts see military helicopters becoming air ambulances and soldiers becoming shop assistants for the elderly. As with other disasters before it, the pandemic is highlighting the human face of the military.