British army will take two-year hit from Olympics: report

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 13, 2012 9:31 PM
British army will take two-year hit from Olympics: report

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's armed forces will take two years to recover from their involvement in the Olympic Games because the high number of personnel deployed at short notice were taken away from normal duties, the army's chief planner for the Games told the Guardian newspaper.

Wing Commander Peter Daulby, who was put in charge of the army's Olympic planning 18 months ago, said the capability to send 18,000 troops to the Games highlighted the danger of "pulling the military down."

"We were originally planning to provide niche capabilities. When the requirement for venue security was doubled, that was a bit of a game changer," Daulby was quoted as saying in the Guardian on Tuesday.

"It will take two years to recover from this, to get back to normal, to get everything back into kilter. You can't expect them to go back to normal routine very easily."

The Olympics became the largest peacetime operation ever performed by Britain's armed forces after security firm G4S could not supply all of the promised 10,400 guards for the two-week sporting festival.

Daulby said the UK's commitment to Afghanistan had not been affected by the Olympics but the military had exceeded by 6,000 the maximum number of people he thought the Ministry of Defense could supply.

"Anything above 18,000 and you start to shut down elements of defense," he said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said the defense contribution to the Olympics had been planned to avoid an impact on current operations.

"While some individual training and leave may need to be rescheduled, this will be managed and will not impact on operations including the ongoing mission in Afghanistan," he said.

British Defense Minister Philip Hammond said on Tuesday that G4S's failure to provide enough guards has shown that there were some things only state organizations, such the army, could be relied upon to do.

Hammond, currently overseeing the largest overhaul of Britain's armed forces in a generation, said in an interview with the Independent that "the story of G4S and the military rescue is quite informative."

Regular trained members of Britain's army will be cut to 82,000 from 102,000 by 2020 to save money.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Bill Trott)