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U.S. Troops to Help Safeguard Olympics

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2002 – When the Winter Olympics begin Feb. 8 in Salt Lake City, Utah, thousands of U.S. service members will be on the scene.

Some will be competing athletes; some will be military band members and honor guards. Most will be doing their part to ensure the games are safe and secure.

The 2002 U.S. Olympic team includes 15 soldiers -- mainly Army National Guardsmen. Of those, 11 are members of the Army's World Class Athlete Program. Two are coaches and two are alternates who only compete in case of injury to a primary team member.

About 4,500 active duty, reserve and National Guard members are on tap to help federal, state and local authorities provide security and respond to emergencies. The military will provide logistics, communications, physical security, explosives-detection dog teams, temporary facilities and aviation support.

"Security has always been a high priority in preparing for the Games," said Air Force Lt. Col. Lisa Bogdanski, a Joint Task Force Olympics spokeswoman. "Since Sept. 11, we've only strengthened our resolve to do what we can to make the Games safe and to work as closely as we can with other federal, state and local agencies."

She said most of the deploying troops are National Guardsmen from 22 states. About 1,900 are Utah Guardsmen activated by the governor to help provide law enforcement. The remaining 2,600 will support other agencies and the Utah Guard, Bogdanski noted.

The U.S. Secret Service has the lead for security at the Games. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the lead agent for preventing terrorist threats, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is responsible for coordinating the federal response to any unexpected incident.

U.S. officials expect about 70,000 to 80,000 visitors to arrive daily in Salt Lake City from Feb. 8 through Feb. 24. More than 10,000 officials are slated to provide security in the city of 800,000 people. In comparison, the last Winter Olympics in America took place in 1980 in Lake Placid, N.Y. About a thousand federal, state and local officials provided security in the town of 2,700 people.

Security preparations for the 2002 Winter Olympics have been under way since 1995, when Salt Lake City was selected to host the Games. Security officials have applied lessons learned from the terrorist attacks at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics and at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, U.S. officials re-evaluated security plans for the Olympics to close any gaps that remained.

To serve as a deterrent, much of the security at the Games will be highly visible, according to U.S. officials. Utah Guardsmen will patrol airport terminals, for example. All baggage at Salt Lake City's airport will be screened for explosives.

Visitors at all venues will be subject to metal detectors. Security officials will use biometric scanners to identify athletes and Olympic officials. Cameras will record visitors' movements. Portable X-ray equipment will be used to inspect suspicious mail.

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