London 2012: 13,500 troops to provide Olympic security


Scale of Olympic military protection revealed

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Up to 13,500 military personnel will help to provide security at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

Security would be police-led but the military would make a "significant contribution", the MoD said.

Some 5,000 troops will support the police, up to 7,500 will provide venue security and 1,000 will provide logistical support.

Last week, ministers revised the Games security budget from £282m to £553m.

In addition to the 13,500 figure, there will be a 1,000-strong unarmed contingency force ready for deployment in the event of an "Olympics-related civil emergency".

Venue protection

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it now estimated 23,700 security staff would be required at Olympic and Paralympic venues next summer, more than double the original estimate of 10,000.

In a written ministerial statement, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that the MoD would be increasing the specialist support work during the Games that it routinely provides for the civilian authorities - such as bomb disposal, building search teams and specialist sniffer dogs.

London 2012 - Begin your journey here

London view

In addition to the 5,000 personnel allocated to that role, some 3,500 would provide venue security.

This figure would rise to 7,500 on peak days during the Olympic Games, he said.

The MoD said the servicemen and women would be on hand across the UK to protect 150 venues and training sites.

And as part of the military's Olympic security role, the Royal Navy's HMS Ocean and HMS Bulwark will also be based at Greenwich, in London, and Weymouth Bay, in Dorset, respectively.

Specialist skills

Mr Hammond told the BBC that the Games were "the biggest security challenge this country has faced for decades".

But he added that military deployment during Olympic Games was routine since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"This defence contribution is on a similar scale to that deployed at other recent Olympic Games and will contribute to ensuring a safe, secure and enjoyable 2012 Olympics," he said.

"Defence will continue to be able to support current and contingent operations during the Games and my priority will remain the troops we have deployed on operations, including in Afghanistan, before, during and after the Olympics."

Mr Hammond also said the military would split its role into two areas.

"First of all we will be providing the routine military aid to the civil power - helping and supporting the police, with things like special forces, bomb disposal capability, military search capability.

"And then we'll be supplying up to 7,500 men and women to support the guarding of the venues themselves.

"They'll be working with civilians in mixed teams, searching and checking people going into the stadiums, making sure - airline style - that nothing that shouldn't get in there gets in."

On Newsnight Mr Hammond stressed that the extra military staff would not carry weapons: "They will be unarmed and will be working alongside unarmed security guards and unarmed volunteers. The police and if necessary, military support to the police would be available if any threat arose," he explained.

The defence secretary also said the military would be using its full range of capabilities and equipment to "keep London safe during the Olympics".

He added: "Military hardware will be used, we'll be deploying helicopters, we'll be deploying Typhoon fighters to defend London's airspace, we'll be deploying ground-to-air missile systems."

Military 'pride'

Lord Dannatt, a former head of the British Army who used to advise the Conservative Party on defence matters, believes service personnel will be pleased to be involved with the Olympics.

"It's not like Afghanistan," he said. "That's been a rolling operation for a long time, 10,000 soldiers there for six months at a time.

"This is going to be a relatively short deployment and I think, as Philip Hammond said, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who are involved actually will be... I think very proud to be part of this spectacular, once-in-a-generation operation to showcase London and showcase the UK."

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former officer in the British army, said the move underlined the importance of having sufficient military capacity to fulfil unforeseen tasks.

He told the BBC: "We have a limited number of police officers. You can't necessarily employ close protection officers or other security officers in this role.

"But it makes me wonder why we continue to talk about reducing the armed forces, particularly in terms of manpower, when these sorts of tasks come up at relatively short notice."

Labour's shadow defence minister, Russell Brown, said: "There can be no compromise with security at the Olympic Games and we support the deployment of UK troops.

"The British people will want to know everything possible is being done to protect their safety.

"It is important we know where these troops will be drawn from and whether there will be any impact on ongoing international efforts."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    Barrage balloons carrying sponsors' logos for air defence???

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    420.Matty, no its folk that pay the BBC TV Licence because for some bizzare reason you get put in prison if you don't...

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    No, a ground attack Harrriers would not be more useful than air defence Typhoons.
    Why would HMS Ocean fire a land attack cruise missile it does not have at Stratford in the event of an attack?
    After 9/11 the US government was criticised for not shooting down the aircraft. Presumably you're happy the aircraft reached their targets, judging by your comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    what a shame the BBC now dont want uis to remind people of how teh armed services tortured and murdered innocent cevilians even though they also reported these events.
    Guess it tory run now so the liars that are teh BBC mods now want to claim our armed serices ( terrorists) are perfect and only ever help old ladies across the road rather than under the tracks of a tank or into a killing field

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    why is the bill going up and up and up with the olympics it would seem to me that the bid for the olympics was a big lie and we need to find the person culpable and arrest them for gross fraud.

    i bet they are paying themselves all massive wages and bonuses while external contractors feather beds and provide non jobs for all the work done.


  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    407.Frank Lund

    In a word... no. That's not to say that Harriers would be unable to do the job, but Typhoons are purpose designed air superiority fighters.

    And pounds and shillings were before my time, I'm happy to say!


    Well spotted. The perils of cut and paste.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    Reading these comments I can't help but think is it all you idiots that are at fault for us having utter garbage on the BBC allday?

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    Distant Owl, I don't think many people are criticising the Forces, as they are told what to do in any event. It cannot surely be on the cards to shoot down a fully loaded hijacked 747 over London.
    Give me a break.
    If HMS ocean is unable to fire missiles and the intention is not to shoot down anything then take it from me it's useless in the thames
    Just an excuse to spend more money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.


  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    2 Minutes ago
    Half a Billion to secure an event in which we'll struggle to win more than a few medals in an event that about as interesting as a school Sports Day

    That, of course. depends on the security measures that have to be taken in the non-GB lanes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    Typical public sector costing, they either are deliberately under estimating the cost knowing full well that the true price would never stand public approval or the management is incompetent. Either way it's only someone elses money so who cares.

  • Comment number 415.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    Half a Billion to secure an event in which we'll struggle to win more than a few medals in an event that about as interesting as a school Sports Day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    2 Minutes ago
    Lots of people asking why the warships (which have batteries of surface to air missiles and air search radar) and fighter jets (which also have batteries of surface to air missiles and air search radar) are needed.

    Does anyone remember 9/11?

    Yes, it was the pre-decimalisation version of 49p to try to make you think that you weren't paying almost ten bob.

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    I am astounded by the amount of ignorance shown by the masses here.I read a gentleman's comment that stated we would be "cheap Police" and no match for a multicultural trained police officer. Disgusting-The lads and lasses that i am honored to work with spend an huge amount of time focusing on cultural training before a deployment and know more about working around this sensitivities than anyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.


    Why would a fighter jet carry surface to air missiles - aren't jet fighters supposed to be ... well flying up in the air?

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    407. Frank Lund
    "Would Harriers be more useful than Typhoons in this context?"
    They would be very useful indeed: that's why the Americans paid the bargain basement price for the fleet. VTOL, etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    As a serving members of the armed forces I am disgusted by some of the anti-forces comments that have been posted. On the flip side I've been highly amused by some of the comments from those who 'know' the military's plans and capabilities. Seconds of internet research will show the 'battleship' HMS Ocean will not fire any missiles at anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    Lots of people asking why the warships (which have batteries of surface to air missiles and air search radar) and fighter jets (which also have batteries of surface to air missiles and air search radar) are needed.

    Does anyone remember 9/11?

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    Would Harriers be more useful than Typhoons in this context?


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