LONDON (AFP) –
Britain will deploy an extra 3,500 troops at the London Olympics after a private security firm said it could not provide sufficient guards, the defence minister confirmed Thursday.
Philip Hammond said the interior ministry requested the move after private contractor G4S could not fulfil its commitment to provide the necessary number of trained staff for the Games, which officially open on July 27.
The deployment, which means 17,000 troops will now be involved in the Olympics, would impose an extra burden on the armed forces over the British summer holiday season, but was “prudent” to ensure security, Hammond said.
“As the venue security exercise has got under way, concerns have arisen about the ability of G4S to deliver the required number of guards for all the venues within the timescales available,” he said in a statement to lawmakers.
“G4S has now agreed that it would be prudent to deploy additional military support to provide greater reassurance.
“The home secretary has therefore requested additional Ministry of Defence support, and I have authorised the deployment of a further 3,500 military personnel.”
The extra deployment represents more than a third of the current total British military force that is fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
But Hammond said it would have “no adverse impact on other operations.”
The extra soldiers will work alongside police, private security guards and unpaid volunteers for a total security force of around 40,00 people at the London Olympics.
The government’s security budget for the Games stands at £553 million ($877 million, 662 million euros).
Hammond said all soldiers involved would receive their full leave entitlement and compensation if they had had to change any arrangements.