Military’s enhanced role at the Olympics

The government will have to introduce new legislation to allow Greek soldiers to carry weapons on urban patrols during the Aug. 13-29 Olympics, a senior law enforcement official said yesterday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that existing gun laws had to be changed to permit members of the military to carry weapons when supporting police patrols. Greece’s military is due to play a vital role at the Olympics and will contribute 10,000 personnel to work alongside 40,000 police officers. A special 200-member military team will also be formed to face biological, chemical and nuclear attacks, while Athens’s more than $750 million security plan will also include AWACS surveillance planes. Police have said large-scale security measures – including heightened measures at Athens International Airport – will go into effect on July 1 but protection of Olympics-related sites will gradually be increased before then. Olympics security has taken on added urgency following the deadly suicide bombings in Istanbul, Turkey last month. Also yesterday, the official confirmed that a major security exercise to deal with the potential threat of an attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons will take place in early February. Code-named «Blue Odyssey,» the exercise had originally been planned for this month. The exercise is expected to include the military’s newly formed team, trained by US and British experts to face such attacks.

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