Lieutenant-General John "JJ" Frewen, Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, and Commodore Eric Young (Images: AAP)

In March last year, when COVID-19 was first stopping life dead in its tracks, Scott Morrison declared war with the virus. "We are in a war against this virus and all Australians are enlisted to do the right thing," the prime minister said.

Throughout the pandemic, Morrison has returned to the language of conflict to frame Australia's struggles with the coronavirus, language that's been picked up by state and territory leaders. And it's been matched by a militarisation of so much of our response to the virus.

By now, we've become used to Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel manning airports, quarantine hotels, and state borders. We barely blinked when men in khaki started appearing in press conferences about the vaccine rollout, just when things seemed to be heading off the rails. Now, key Australian Public Service (APS) departments are being headed by people with close military ties.