Daily Israel Report

Britain Hastily Details 3500 Troops To Fill Olympic Shortfall

Shortly before the Olympic Games are to begin, the British Army has to come up with a lot of extra bodies.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 7/16/2012, 2:21 AM

We need 3500 more of you
We need 3500 more of you
Reuters

The good news for British servicemen is that they will be getting free tickets to the Olympic Games and the Paralympics that will follow them.

The bad news is that many, including those recently rotated out of Afghanistan, will have their summer vacations canceled so they can provide security for the same games.

Others will be flown in from Germany and the hunt is on for a temporary base - perhaps a warehouse, perhaps under the stars despite torrential rains.

This is the result of a security shortfall that was discovered shortly before the Olympic Games were slated to begin. Security consciousness is high as the Olympic Games constitute a high profile target for terrorist attacks by dissident Irish nationalists as well as Al Qaeda and its offshoots, including home grown Muslim extremists.

The Olympic Games organizing committee had entrusted part of security to a private corporation called G4S. The government did not want too top-heavy a military presence, fearing that it would mar the games and the image of a secure Britain.

Of 23,700 security guards on hand, the military was originally going to supply 13,500, while G4S was to provide the remaining 10,000. Then G4S informed the government that it would not be able to meet the target, necessitating the recruitment of an additional 3500 troops to meet the shortfall.

Judging by the reports of a G4S whistleblower to Sky News, the embarrassment may have a silver lining in terms of security. The informant spoke of a training process that essentially passed every applicant irrespective of his level of incompetence. He spoke of exercises where he repeatedly passed mock bombs and grenades as well as knives and firearms through the security screening and concluded that there was a 50-50 chance that a bomb would be introduced to the Olympic Games. Part of the problem was that some trainees were given very brief times of training, sometimes lasting just two days.

Home Secretary Theresa May was given a rough time in Parliament as she attempted to defend the government against opposition charges that security had become a shambles. "Let me reiterate there is no question of Olympic security being compromised."