July 17, 2012 -
The Olympic Games are a huge source of international cooperation and pride, but the visibility of the games brings with it increased security. The 2012 London Olympic Games will see unprecedented levels of security, with a carrier ship being parked near the site and surface-to-air missiles placed around the games -- not to mention intense screening and visible presence of military personnel. We all hope none of these measures need be used, but if the unthinkable happens the English government will hopefully have the proper precautions in place to protect the athletes, spectators and others.
Arriving in London, commuters and spectators will experience higher levels of security. Here, a Metropolitan police dog named Chester sniffs luggage at a bus station.
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One of the major controversies during the run-up to the Games has been the security firm G4S. The firm was contracted to have 10,400 security personnel at the site, but due to a variety of issues from software and screening problems to minor staffing scandals, they were only able to provide 7,000. (source: Telegraph) The slack has had to be picked up by British military forces and the London Metropolitan Police who have been conducting trainings and operations as quickly as possible to ensure their coordination.
Leading up to the 2012 Opening Ceremonies, a Royal Marine participates in a security exercise along the River Thames. The Metropolitan Police and the Royal Marines are set to continue drills to test their joint capabilities.
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The Royal Navy's largest ship, the HMS Ocean, is moored by the Olympic site near Greenwich. The amphibious assault ship can simultaneously serve six military helicopters and houses a significant military presence.
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Surrounding the Olympic site, aside from the naval and military units, ships, helicopters, dogs and the "ring of steel" surrounding the city of London (said one resident to the Guardian) there are six surface-to-air missile batteries on rooftops and in fields to "deter terrorists." The missile batteries have been the most controversial security measure, but petitions by local residents to block their placement have been denied by the British courts.
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An aerial view of an Olympic defense missile site situated on the roof of the old Bryant and May factory. According to Read Write Web, "The Rapier is the standard British Army anti-aircraft weapon. It’s designed to take out supersonic, low-level, high-maneuverability targets. The launcher packs four missiles, as well as all the necessary guidance and surveillance electronics. It can be mounted on vehicles as well as turrets. A proximity fuse detonates the warhead as close to the target as possible."
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Ultimately, we'll not know the effectiveness of all this security until after the closing ceremonies. When that happens, we will hopefully hear the International Olympic Committee, the British security forces, the Royal Air Force, the Metropolitan police and Londoners breathe a collective sigh of relief to a job well done. After the Games close, we'll likely hear Londoners crying, "Get your missiles off my roof."