Reflecting how seriously the British government is taking a potential terrorist threat to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the nation’s defense minister said ground-to-air missiles may be used to protect the sporting event, if necessary.
New defense secretary Philip Hammond informed MPs of this possible measure during his first appearance at ‘Defense Questions,’ since taking over from the outgoing minister, Liam Fox.
I can assure… that all necessary measures to ensure the security and safety of the London Olympic Games will be taken including -- if the advice of the military is that it is required -- appropriate ground-to-air defenses, Hammond told lawmakers.
Both police and the military will reportedly be deployed across London during the games next year.
Earlier this year, Chris Allison, the security coordinator for National Olympic, estimated that 12,000 police officers and another 10,000-15,000 security officials who could be deployed by private security firm G4S for the Games.
If the British military is involved, it is unclear how their activities will be coordinated and who would report to whom.
Security planning is on track and funding has been protected. The government is committed to delivering a safe and secure Games that London, the UK and the world can enjoy,” said a spokesman for the Home Office in a statement.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) undertake detailed inspections of security preparations and have full confidence in our plans. The UK has a strong and close working relationship with the US, who have expressed similar confidence.
However the United States had expressed some concern that Westminster was not taking enough security precautions ahead of the games. The British newspaper Guardian reported earlier that U.S. officials wanted to send 1,000 of its own people to the Games, including 500 FBI agents, although the Home Office apparently rejected the offer, citing it was fully confident in its own security program.
Washington was particularly concerned given the magnitude of the summer riots in Britain as well as the arrest of some people prior to the arrival of the Pope.
Gordon Corera, BBC's security correspondent, wrote: The U.S. is understood to be taking a close interest in the plans and is intending to send over hundreds of personnel to protect its athletes.