Conflict & Justice

Olympics: Britain puts 3,500 troops on standby ahead of games


Deputy Air Engineer Carl Harwood (R) aboard the Royal Navy Helicopter Carrier HMS Ocean as she makes her way up the River Thames as part of security rehearsals ahead of the London 2012 Olympics, on May 4, 2012 in London, England. The exercise is aimed at testing military capabilities to ensure operational readiness before the start of the Olympic Games.


Oli Scarff

Britain has put an additional 3,500 troops on standby ahead of the Olympics over concerns that private contractor G4S would not have enough trained staff ready in time for the games. 

BBC News reported that G4S admitted that they were having "some issues in relation to workforce supply." 

The additional British forces may bring the total number of soldiers serving during the Olympics from 13,500 to over 17,000, meaning that some troops will have their summer leave canceled, UPI reported

The security staff at the London Olympics will do search and screen spectators, check vehicles traveling through the Olympic Park and protecting its perimeters, among other functions, Reuters reported

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Several officials have raised concerns about the increase in troops, especially so close to the opening of the Games, BBC News reported. 

"With two weeks to go to the start of the Games, it is imperative that action is taken to ensure that the full and necessary quota of security personnel are in place so that the Games will be safe and secure," said Tessa Jowell, the British Labour Party's Olympics liaison. "We need to know why the problem has emerged so late in the day and precisely what has been agreed to." 

Securing the Olympic venue has been one of the most hotly disputed issues among organizers and the British government, the Guardian pointed out: the London committee admitted in December it had "wildly underestimated the number of staff required to deliver security at 34 Olympic venues in London and around the country," as the Guardian reported. 

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The Olympic Games in London have already faced several security threats, USA Today reported, including last week's arrest of three suspected terrorists at a house a mile from London's Olympic Park and the June arrest of a man with links to al-Qaeda who violating orders to stay away from Olympic Park.  

"The homegrown terror problem is a real problem for them," Ray Mey, a former FBI counterterrorism official who helped coordinate security for the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 and for the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy, told USA Today. "They definitely have their hands full."