According to a report in the Sunday Mirror, Britain will call up 8,000 soldiers to help guard next year's Olympic Games – "putting a serious strain on our already over-stretched Armed Forces". The story continues:
Troops from the Territorial Army and regular units will be mobilised with Typhoon fighter jets and Army helicopters patrolling the skies.
Units working with the Navy will take care of maritime security in Weymouth, Poole and the Thames in London. Assault ship HMS Bulwark will be mobilised and armed patrol craft and airborne snipers will be on alert to take out potential targets.
A document outlining plans for "Op Olympic" says the Army will also be used to guard "contentious" national training camps, such as those of the United States and Israel.
But senior officers at a meeting of the Field Army Command Group raised fears that the operation – from the start of the Olympic torch relay on May 18 until the end of the Games on September 9 – would have a serious impact on manpower and resources in Afghanistan and Libya.
A high-ranking Army insider said: "We've been asked to help out with security at the Olympics and will just have to rise to the challenge, although we will be stretched."
The military – already squeezed by massive job losses – will provide intelligence support, search teams, scientific advisers and linguists as huge crowds turn out to see stars like British heptathlete Jessica Ennis.
Last week 200 senior Olympic officials met to discuss the security threat in the wake of the riots. And military insiders fear they will have to provide more security cover if gangs and rioters threaten the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London.
An MoD spokesman said: "We expect to contribute a variety of niche security capabilities and will work closely with the Home Office."
- Source article by Mike Hamilton, Sunday Mirror 14 Jul 2011 - 8,000 soldiers called up to police next year's London Olympic Games
- FT 17 Jul 2011 - MoD concerned over bigger Olympics role
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