By Tom Degun in London

philip hammond_15-12-11December 15 - Defence Secretary Philip Hammond (pictured) has today confirmed that up to 13,500 military personnel will be deployed to provide security for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Security has been a major concern in the build-up to the Games with the Government increasing the cost of the Games security budget this month by £271 million ($424 million/€315 million).

But Hammond stated that his Ministry of Defence (MOD) are taking every precaution to ensure that the Olympics and Paralympics are safe for all in attendance, although the announcement of 13,500 troops is significantly higher than the 7,000 that had been widely expected.

"Next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games are once-in-a-generation events for the UK," said the Defence Secretary.

"We want them to be secure, so that all those competing and attending can enjoy the Games for the celebration of sporting achievement and cultural celebration that it is.

"The Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force between them will provide up to 13,500 personnel.

"Up to 7,500 of them will support the smooth running of Olympic sites while the remainder will use their specialist capabilities and equipment to contribute to the delivery of Olympic security.

"I have no doubt that they will do a fantastic job and I look forward to their professionalism and agility being on show on the world stage once again."

hms ocean_15-12-11
Hammond also said that two of Britain's biggest assault ships will be protecting the Olympics and Paralympics, with the giant HMS Ocean (pictured) to be based at Greenwich where the equestrian events are taking place and HMS Bulwark being stationed at Weymouth where the sailing events are going on.

During the Games, some 3,500, rising to a peak of 7,500, will provide venue security, while around 5,000 servicemen and women will support the police and other civil authorities where they will be providing specialist capabilities such as bomb disposal and dog teams.

Typhoon jets will be stationed temporarily at RAF Northolt, while Puma and Lynx helicopters will operate from HMS Ocean.

Hammond added that these security measures are similar to those seen at previous Games such as the Beijing 2008 Olympics and Paralympics.

"This defence contribution is on a similar scale to that deployed at other recent Olympic Games and will contribute to ensuring a safe, secure and enjoyable 2012," he said.

"Defence will continue to be able to support current and contingent operations during the Games and my priority will remain the troops we have deployed on operations, including in Afghanistan, before, during and after the Olympics."

The total venue guard-force is likely to be around 23,700 and there will be a further 1,000 strong rapid-reaction force ready to respond to emergency situations.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, the national Olympic security coordinator, added that the troops will play a vital role in keeping the Games safe.

"Delivering a safe and secure Games will only be achieved through a range of different agencies working closely together," he said.

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