The already militarized tone at the London Olympics is ratcheting up with the Royal Air Force (RAF) stating that it is ready to use “lethal force” against unauthorized aircraft during the games.
A corporal with Britain’s Royal Air Force with equipment that will be used in London during the upcoming Olympic Games. (photo: Leon Neal/AFP) “As a last resort, we will have lethal force as an option,” said Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, the Olympics air security commander, referring to the RAF’s power to shoot down aircraft that do not follow the air restrictions and do not heed warnings.
RAF’s announcement comes after confirmation that surface-to-air missiles would be set up at six spots around London and the navy’s biggest warship would be stationed in the Thames.
Private security contractor G4S, hired to provide security for the games, stated that it was unable to provide the number of personnel demanded and is therefore turning to Britain’s military to acquire 3,500 extra personnel.
This means that there will now be 17,000 military personnel, including 11,800 soldiers, patrolling the games, more than the number it has currently stationed in Afghanistan.
NBC news reports that this “is the largest British security operation carried out in peacetime.”
Seamus Milne writes that London resembles “a militarized occupation zone. East London has become lockdown London.”
This militarized atmosphere is apparently the kind London Mayor Boris Johnson wants to foster. “We have increased the number of people who will be involved and I think anybody who goes to Wimbledon and sees the role of the Armed Services in venue security, making the thing run well, will like it. It will add an element of tone to our proceedings over the next few weeks,” he said.