Monday, May 7, 2012

UK military on charm offensive over Olympic missiles

(Reuters) - Britain's military launched a charm offensive on Thursday to calm residents' fears over plans to put missile batteries on their rooftops to protect this summer's Olympics from a possible 9/11-style attack.

"We want the focus to be on (Jamaican sprinter) Usain Bolt this summer and not us," said Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, speaking at a cadet centre near Blackheath Common in southeast London, one of six potential sites for the anti-aircraft weapons.

An eight-day military exercise codenamed Olympic Guardian, began this week to test operations for a safe Games in July in what will be Britain's biggest peacetime security operation.

Missiles could be placed on a disused water tower in an apartment complex in Bow, next to the Olympic Park in east London, after defense chiefs decided against putting them inside the Games complex.

"We're trying to demilitarize this and let the sport do the talking," said Colonel Jon Campbell, commander of joint ground based air defense. Read More