Armoured vehicle demand driven by Olympics security concerns

Contributor:  Andrew Elwell
Posted:  05/09/2012  12:00:00 AM EDT
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Tags:   armoured

The iron curtain surrounding London in the run up to the Olympic Games this summer continues to be drawn around the capital as law enforcement and government agencies bolster and reinforce their defences. The latest trend has seen a jump in armoured vehicles sales, primarily to heads of state and high net worth individuals.

International Armoring Corporation (IAC), a U.S.-based manufacturer of commercial armoured vehicles, has reported a 200% rise in demand from the UK due to increasing concerns about a terrorist attack during the Games.

“The UK is one of our two fastest growing markets,” CEO Mark Burton told the Mirror newspaper in an interview.

“In early 2002, Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics just after the September 11 attacks and we saw the same demands and requirements,” he continued. “Local security forces got involved and we are seeing similar interest here from forces who need added protection … They have recognised there is a threat and need to be discreet in what they offer.”

The sight of armoured vehicles driving around London will become a familiar one over the next few months as international dignitaries flock to the city. In a similar vein, with Brazil set to host the Olympics in 2016, the market for armoured vehicles there is expected to blossom during the intervening years. However, for now with all eyes trained on London in 2012, the risk of a terrorist attack becomes that much more pronounced. The security detail must therefore step-up many orders of magnitude in response.

The MoD announced that it would turn residential areas of London into temporary missile bases as all efforts are made to thwart a 9/11-style attack. MoD has freely revealed that the High Velocity Missile (HVM) systems will be placed around the capital; the government is making no secret of its highly complex and multi-layered security strategy, quite the opposite in fact as it seeks to increase awareness in London and dispel intent from terrorist cells.

The government announced last week that Exercise Olympic Guardian, a major military security exercise, would be taking place on land, at sea and in the air in London “to ensure that we are ready for the challenge,” said Philip Hammond, Defence Secretary.

“The majority of this exercise will be played out in full view of the public and I hope that it will have a secondary effect of reassuring the British people that everything possible is being done to ensure this will be a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Hammond.

But it’s not just physical attacks; the looming cyber threat is on the rise too and presents significant challenges to the UK as the Olympics approach.

Francis Maude, UK Minister for Cyber Security, travelled to Estonia’s International Centre for Defence Studies (ICDS) last week to learn how to better protect against the digital threat. Estonia was subject to a massive cyber attack in 2007 and is now thought to be a leading authority on cyber preparedness.

“This year’s Olympics in the United Kingdom will not be immune to cyber attacks by those who would seek to disrupt the Games,” said Maude. “We have rightly been preparing for sometime – a dedicated unit will help guard the London Olympics against cyber attack – we are determined to have a safe and secure Games.”

However, we should of course remember that, as Hugo Rosemont, Policy Advisor for Security and Resilience at trade association ADS Group, told me:

“The Olympics is not a security event; it’s a sporting event with a security overlay … We haven’t delivered a successful Games as yet, although clearly everybody expects and intends that to be the case and has high confidence in those plans.”

Andrew Elwell Contributor:   Andrew Elwell

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