Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (2 PWRR) are helping to provide security for the final and largest Olympic Games test event taking place this weekend.
120 soldiers from the battalion will be providing venue security at the Olympic Park in Stratford. The soldiers from 2 PWRR are the first to complete their training as members of the Olympic Venue Security Force.
For the 100,000 members of the public attending the test event, the first welcome they receive on the gate is likely to be from the British Army.
In conjunction with security firm G4S, the soldiers will be in charge of making sure that visitors to the Olympic venue don’t have any prohibited items, and ensuring nothing disrupts people’s enjoyment of the Games.
The soldiers have been trained in the use of state-of-the-art airport-style security systems, including Rapiscan x-ray equipment and handheld metal detectors, as well as general search and observational skills.
For the soldiers, who are more used to patrolling the front line in Afghanistan, these are brand new skills to learn, but their natural enthusiasm and professional approach, as well as people skills, which have been classed as ‘second-to-none’, have made them a natural choice for the role, proving once more the natural adaptability of the British soldier.
Mike Lord is the curriculum writer and x-ray training team leader for major events planner Contemporary International, the approved provider of training solutions to G4S and the London 2012 Olympics. He was bowled over by the soldiers’ progress:
I could train these guys all day, every day - they’re a great bunch of people and very engaging. Their extensive life skills, discipline, professionalism, and above all their fantastic people management skills, will really enhance what we are trying to achieve in venue security for the Games.
I have every faith our servicemen and women will be able to make what could so easily be a frustrating part of access to the Games into a more pleasurable experience. They are competent, sensitive and professional, and have a great sense of humour.
Most of the military have spent their careers working in intense situations around the world; that global experience of dealing with a diversity of people will be invaluable in the Games. These young soldiers are now the experts who will be showing the civilian security operators how it should be done; a really impressive bunch of people.
Major Jacob Hancock, Company Commander of Z Company, 2 PWRR, the first military personnel to enter the Olympic Park, is confident his soldiers will do all they can to make the security process as enjoyable an experience as possible for the public:
A lot of people will be trying to get to the Games in a short space of time and there will be long queues, but my soldiers are patient and have the ability to deal with individuals courteously and diffuse tension,” he said.
Their experiences in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world mean they are well used to the needs and sensitivities of different cultures and faiths, and they will do all they can to preserve the dignity and modesty of those they will be dealing with.
2 PWRR soldier Private Chris Staras, whose role is in the mortar team, is delighted he was chosen to help with the Olympics. He said:
I’m so excited and proud to be part of the Games. It will be a huge privilege to be there and to know that I helped make it a memorable occasion for everyone concerned.
I’m really looking forward to meeting the public and the atmosphere of this great event. It’s a chance of a lifetime and my wife Eloise and parents Luke and Patricia are over the moon and will be looking out for me on the TV!
The test event at the Olympic Park this weekend comes as various military and civilian authorities take part in numerous Olympics security exercises across London and the South East this week. See Related News to read more on these.