The extent to which Britain's Armed Forces will support the security effort for next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games in London was announced Friday by the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond.
While the safety and security operation for the Games remains for the police to lead on, the Government has agreed that the Ministry of Defence will make a significant contribution by providing a range of support to the civilian authorities.
The Defence contribution to Olympics security will include specialist capabilities which only the military can provide, as well as some more general support. In total, the MOD expects to provide up to 13,500 personnel, comprising:
• 5,000 personnel in support of the police and other civil authorities, with specialist capabilities including explosive ordnance disposal teams, military working dogs and Royal Navy support to maritime policing, as well as a 1,000-strong unarmed contingency force for deployment in the event of an Olympics-related civil emergency
• 1,000 personnel to provide logistics support
• 3,500 personnel, rising to a peak of 7,500, to provide venue security
• a number of personnel participating in ceremonial events.
A number of military assets will also be deployed, including:
• HMS Ocean, the largest ship in the Royal Navy's fleet, which will be berthed in the Thames at Greenwich, providing logistics support, accommodation and a helicopter landing site
• HMS Bulwark, in Weymouth Bay, providing maritime command and control, accommodation, helicopter and small boat basing, and logistics supply
• Typhoon jets, stationed temporarily at RAF Northolt in London, and helicopters, likely to be Puma and Lynx, operating from HMS Ocean to support airspace security
• Appropriate ground-based air defence capabilities also to support the airspace security effort.
In addition, the military will make available Defence real estate including Woolwich Barracks and Horse Guards.
Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond said that next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games are once-in-a-generation events for the UK and “we want them to be secure so that all those competing and attending can enjoy the Games for the celebration of sporting achievement and cultural celebration that they are.
I am proud to announce the role our Armed Forces will play in support of the police, LOCOG [London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games], and others, in delivering a safe and secure Games.
The Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force between them will provide up to 13,500 personnel. Up to 7,500 of them will support the smooth running of Olympic sites, while the remainder will use their specialist capabilities and equipment to contribute to the delivery of Olympic security.
I have no doubt that they will do a fantastic job - and I look forward to their professionalism and agility being on show on the world stage once again.
Defence is proud to be playing its part in such an important national event as London 2012, but support to the Games will not divert the MOD from its core business. Throughout the Games, the Armed Forces will maintain their commitment to the protection of the UK, to current operations in Afghanistan and to other standing commitments worldwide - including the ability to respond to the unexpected.
The Defence contribution to London 2012 is on a similar scale to the military personnel deployed at other recent Olympic Games. The Government is clear that the Games should be a peaceful celebration of sporting achievement and a cultural celebration - not a security event.
Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison of the Metropolitan Police, the National Olympic Security Coordinator, said:
Delivering safe and secure Games will only be achieved through a range of different agencies working closely together. I am proud to be leading what will be the Police Service's biggest ever peacetime safety and security operation. What we are all working towards is providing an environment where millions of people can enjoy the Games and the sport can take centre stage safely and securely.
Our relationship with the Armed Forces has developed over a number of years and we have huge experience in working with them to deliver major events. Their support to our operation is built on these tried and tested practices. I know that they will also provide excellent support to the event organisers, LOCOG's, own venue security operations.