Photo from Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports
LONDON (USA TODAY) - The British government Tuesday deployed 1,200 more soldiers to assist in Olympic security. Three days before the opening ceremony, London organizers put a positive spin on the latest bolstering prompted by a private security firm's failure to deliver on its contracted number of security personnel.
"The reason ... we deployed the 1,200 we have on standby is this is the biggest, most important thing that's ever happened in this country during our lifetime. Why don't we just take every single piece of risk out of it?" said Paul Deighton, ex-banker and CEO of the London Olympic Organizing Committee.
G4S, a private security firm, was contracted to provide more than 10,000 security workers. Due to a shortfall, the British government announced early this month that it was deploying 3,500 troops to assist in security and putting 1,200 on standby.
Deighton said G4S now has about 6,000 in its security force and anticipates getting to 7,000.
"The reason that we are choosing to deploy the extra 1,200 is, sure, the plan is to get from six to 7,000, but you can't be absolutely certain about anything with a temporary work force," Deighton said.
"And therefore we simply want to substitute a temporary work force with a permanent, reliable work force that we get with the military. So the net outcome is that you end up with an even better security force. It's really just changing the mix within the existing plan, which is why we continue to be so confident."
Britain now has about 18,200 military personnel now involved in some capacity in the Olympics, according to the Associated Press.
National Olympic Security Coordinator Chris Allison, also assistant commissioner of the London police department, said the addition of more troops helps "de-risk" the Olympics.
"I'm very happy with it," Allison said. "We don't know what's going to come around the corner. And that's the reality. ... We got an extra 1,200 skilled individuals that we know we can deploy."
What about the training and preparedness of the late arrivals?
"I'm very confident in the training. Both for the (private security) and for the military," Deighton said.
"It's essentially the same the same training. What was particularly good in trying to reinforce the force on the ground is to have a series of roving teams that would go around and train on the job. ... So it's not a question of just training and sending them out there."
A report in The Guardian on Tuesday says that some of the recruits training to man security stations had been passed through their training despite shoddy performances, including missing bomb materials in test cases.