LONDON - Don't worry, London. It's only a test.
London's Marine Policing Unit and Royal Marines will be conducting training tests next week on London's famed Thames river as part of security operations ahead of the Olympics, police said in a statement Friday. The tests are designed to make certain that security forces become familiar with the river and make sure their tactics work together.
"The Thames runs through the very heart of our capital and will be a popular place for people who want to be part of the Olympic spirit," said Chris Allison, the national Olympic security coordinator. "This is all part of our planning to ensure this summer's events take place safely and securely."
Authorities say the exercise will include patrol vessels, inflatable boats and helicopters — a massive show of might that will be visible at certain parts of the river. Allison said the exercises are an example of how the military can bolster the Olympic security effort, but are not in response to any specific threat.
The tests will involve up to 44 police officers and 94 military personnel. The show of force will underline the seriousness of security forces ahead of the July 27-Aug. 12 event.
Security has long been a high priority for the Olympics. A terror attack at the 1972 Olympics in Munich killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches, an incident that put a high state of readiness in the forefront of all planning.
London has had its own experience with terrorism. Four suicide bombers targeted the city's transit network in 2005, killing 52 commuters on the day after the Summer Olympics were awarded to the city.
Officials have previously raised concern over the potential that terrorists could attempt to use the river, pointing to the use of boats to launch the 2008 attacks which killed 166 people in Mumbai, India.
The British government is planning for the national terror threat to be "severe" during the Olympics, meaning an attempted attack is highly likely.
About 12,000 police officers will also be on duty on the busiest days of the games — together up to 13,500 troops deployed on land, at sea and in the skies. A huge presence of private security guards will also safeguard Olympic venues.
Source: Star Tribune, Published 1/13/12— By Danika Kirka , Associated Press