Britain defends deployment of extra 3,500 Olympics troops

British authorities insisted Thursday that Olympic security would not be compromised after having to draft in an extra 3,500 troops because a private security firm failed to provide enough guards.

The embarrassing development adds to worries about Britain's preparations for the London Games, which officially open on July 27, as fresh problems also emerged with transport and border security for the event.

Home Secretary Theresa May made an urgent statement to lawmakers confirming that private contractor G4S could not supply all the security staff it had promised due to recruitment and training problems.

"Let me reiterate that there is no question of Olympic security being compromised," the interior minister told lawmakers.

She said the government had built in contingency plans to what is Britain's largest security operation since World War II but that "concerns have arisen about the ability of G4S to deliver the required number of guards".

"We have now agreed it would be prudent to deploy additional military support to provide greater reassurance," she said.

May said she was confident the government would be able to stick to its security budget for the Games, which stands at £553 million ($877 million, 662 million euros).

A total of 17,000 troops will now be involved in the Olympics.

The extra deployment of 3,500 is equivalent in size to more than a third of the current total British military force of 9,500 in Afghanistan, and comes as the armed forces are facing widespread cuts.

But Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said it would have "no adverse impact on other operations."

He added in a statement that all soldiers involved would receive their full leave entitlement and compensation if they had had to change any arrangements.

May said the government was now donating 10,000 Olympic and Paralympic tickets to the armed forces, as well as 7,000 tickets for dress rehearsals of the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.

But opposition lawmakers demanded an explanation for the change which comes just over two weeks before the start of events despite Britain having had seven years to prepare.

"G4S has let the country down and we have literally had to send in the troops," Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the home affairs select committee, told parliament.

Labour home affairs spokeswoman Yvette Cooper said the announcement "really looks like another huge Home Office shambles".

It was unclear what would happen to the reported £300 million fee the government had paid G4S for Olympic security.

Separately a parliamentary committee report published on Thursday found that Britain's spy agencies have been placed under "unprecedented pressure" by preparations for the Olympics, leaving the country at risk from other threats.

The Intelligence and Security Committee oversees the work of MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence agency, the foreign spy agency MI6, and the electronic eavesdropping agency GCHQ.

It praised them for working against potential threats to the Games from Al-Qaeda, Irish republican dissidents and "hostile states".

But the report said committee members remain "concerned at the risk that is being taken in some areas and the vulnerability of the UK at this critical period."

In a far cry from the image of fictional British spy James Bond, it added that one particular difficulty for the intelligence agencies was arranging childcare over the British summer.

Meanwhile an independent watchdog warned that border staff drafted in to cope with the influx of visitors to Britain for the Games may lack proper training and immigration experience.

In another pre-Olympics scare, the main M4 motorway between Heathrow Airport and London has been closed for repairs to a cracked viaduct. Britain's Highways Agency said it expected the road to reopen in time for the Games.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral
    China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral

    China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top US Navy admiral told US lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR
    Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR

    Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to consider a proposed special tax exemption for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in his much-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday it will have to be discussed by Congress because lawmakers are the ones who enact tax exemptions, special or general. Pacquiao has been dogged by unsettled tax obligations with the BIR. …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • Phl now biggest grower of GM crops
    Phl now biggest grower of GM crops

    The Philippines is now the twelfth biggest grower of genetically modified (GM) crops. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options