ATHENS ø Greece has launched another major exercise to ensure
security at the Olympic Games.
The exercise, termed "Olympic Guardian-2," takes place on Thursday.
The four-day exercise marks the eighth time that Greece's military and
security forces will train and engage in drills in an effort to protect the
Olympic Games, scheduled in August.
Officials said Olympic Guardian-2 was organized by the Olympic Games
Security Division, which comprises a seven-national panel that includes
Britain, France, Israel and the United States. The exercise will operate
under a range of scenarios that will test the capabilities and response of
Greece's military and security forces.
[On Thursday, a bomb exploded in front of a bank in Athens. The blast
caused minor damage and no casualties, Middle East Newsline reported.]
The scenario calls for a terrorist attack on the Olympic village or a
nearby area. Greek authorities, with the help of its allies, will then be
required to manage the crisis in a simulated Olympic Games environment.
Officials said the exercise will be conducted in cooperation with the
United States, which has provided hundreds of security officers to help
secure the Olympic Games. The United States has also provided technology and
training for the security effort. The other members of the Olympic Games
Security Advisory Group would serve as observers.
Last week, Greek Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis held talks
with senior U.S. officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
Voulgarakis said Olympic Games security was a major subject on the agenda.
"We discussed the major issue of Olympic Games security, which is of
great importance to us as a country," Voulgarakis said. "And I am in the
pleasant position of saying that Mr. Ridge agrees that very significant
steps have been made and that Greece can indeed host secure Olympic Games."
Olympic Guardian-2 marks the first time that members of the advisory
group's Coordinating Council will participate in an Olympics security
exercise, officials said. They said Olympic Guardian I was held in November
2003 in Stuttgart, Germany and deemed a success.
Greece has urged NATO and European Union allies to help in the effort to
secure the Olympic Games. Greek Deputy Public Order Minister Christos
Markoyiannakis said the Olympic Games should bolster security cooperation
within Europe. He said Greece will provide additional details on the
security measures for the Olympic Games at the NATO summit in June. Greece
has reported spending $1.2 billion to secure the Olympic Games.
"Solidarity among all the EU member-states, of which we speak today,
must be proven during the Athens Olympic Games, in order to convey the
message of European civilization's timeless values to the rest of the
world," Markoyiannakis said.