David Aikin, Canwest News
May 21, 2008
Documents indicate military planners will use the Vancouver Olympics as a template for securing other events in Canada, such as meetings of the G8 leaders or future sporting events.
OTTAWA – Canadian security agencies are planning to use planes, tanks, ships and thousands of military and police personnel to secure the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games and will consider their job a success if the public hardly notices their presence.
“It must be understood that the V2010 Games are a sporting event, not a security one,” wrote Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier in his Initiating Directive, a document prepared in June, 2006, that formally authorized the Canadian Forces to begin assisting the RCMP with that agency’s Olympic plans.
The directive and other Canadian Forces documents indicate the Canadian Forces are taking great pains not to “take over” planning for the Olympics and to ensure that during the event, Canadian Forces personnel and equipment will be visible only during ceremonial events.
Military planners say it will be the largest security operation in Canadian history and, if they do it right, Canadians will hardly notice.
“CF support to this aspect of the V2010 Games will need to be discreet to the general public. CF ceremonial support to [the federal government] will be in the public eye to the extent desired by the [government],” Gen. Hillier wrote. “In both cases, it must be understood that the CF shall remain in a supporting role and at no time should staff at any levels attempt to take the lead.”
Security agencies believe they will be able to stay out of sight by using an array of surveillance technologies, including closed-circuit cameras, electronic sensors, and unmanned aerial vehicles flying high over the Olympic venues in Vancouver and Whistler. In fact, one researcher, sociologist David Lyon of Queen’s University, has dubbed Vancouver 2010 “the Surveillance Games.” Mr. Lyon, the director of The Surveillance Project, a research initiative partly funded with a $2.5-million federal government grant, plans to organize an academic conference on that theme in Vancouver just ahead of the 2010 Games.
A discrete and quiet role would be a marked contrast to approaches taken by the CF and police forces to secure other high-profile events.
For example, at the 2007 summit in Montebello, Que., where Prime Minister Stephen Harper hosted meetings with U. S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, police in riot gear backed up by camouflaged Canadian Forces soldiers patrolled the area around the meeting site. Canadian Forces helicopters, with armed soldiers hanging out the sides, deterred canoes and motorboats along the Ottawa River.
Armed soldiers and helicopters will be present in Vancouver, but military and police planners are hopeful of keeping them in the background. Nearly 13,000 RCMP, military and other security personnel are expected in Vancouver as part of the 2010 security effort.
The RCMP is also planning to install hundreds of cameras throughout the Olympic venues, each of which will use face-recognition technology to help officers keep tabs on the nearly half a million visitors expected in Vancouver for the Games.
Gen. Hillier, in his initializing orders, said the CF has two goals for Vancouver: secure the Games and do so while upholding the Olympic spirit.
“Forces and other dangerous individuals or organizations may seize this moment to further their aims using violence,” Gen. Hillier wrote. “Canadian security forces, and the CF, must therefore be poised to detect, deter, prevent, pre-empt and defeat threats and aggression during the period of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics while respecting, as much as possible, the spirit of the Olympic Truce.”
The documents also indicate military planners will use the Vancouver Olympics as a template for securing other events in Canada, such as meetings of the G8 leaders or future sporting events.
Security agencies, led and coordinated by the RCMP, are planning to be able to secure the 2010 Games against a number of threats, including natural disasters, terrorists, organized crime activity, cyber-threats to information systems and protests.
“There are a number of terrorist groups that maintain a presence within Canada,” Lieutenant-General Marc Dumais wrote in a planning guidance directive issued on Oct. 26, 2006. “While much of their activity is related to fundraising, some of these groups are assessed as having the capacity to undertake terrorist acts.”
Lt.-Gen. Dumais is the Commander of Canada Command, one of the four operational divisions of the Canadian Forces. Canada Command is responsible for all routine and emergency military operations within Canada.
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