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Saturday, Feb. 20

So where’s the military at Olympics? An article in Britain’s Guardian the week before the Games described Vancouver as a military state “more resembling post-war Berlin than an Olympic wonderland”, given the number of security personnel on the ground and military helicopters buzzing about overhead. The military itself was openly promoting its role in Olympic security, with Vice-Admiral Tyrone Pile, commanding officer of Joint Task Force Pacific and its man at the Olympics standing beside the RCMP at Integrated Security Unit press briefings for the last year.

 

February 20, 2010
By Paul Dixon

Topics

There
most definitely is a military presence, but it’s very low key and you have to
know where to look. Even at that, it can be hard to spot. Many press reports
would have you believe that CF personnel are standing alongside police and
private security at the Games but that is not the case. The CF has many
missions to fulfill at the Games, most of them in a support capacity far out of
the public eye. At Whistler and the Callaghan Valley, while police and security guards
are in the venue and maintain the perimeter fences, army personnel are stationed
far into the back country, living under canvas while providing wide-ranging
security for the region. 

There are
CF-18 Hornets in temporary facilities at
Vancouver airport and likely more at CFB Comox on Vancouver Island. You might see a couple of them
overhead once or twice a day but you really have to look. The helicopters over
downtown
Vancouver are RCMP birds, but occasionally a CF Griffon is seen.
There were six Griffons on the ground at the Whistler heliport two weeks ago
and that seems to be their home for the Olympics. 

No sign
of any major naval assets in the
Vancouver region in the form of frigates or
destroyers. There was an MCDV here a week ago and an ORCA has been in
Vancouver harbour and up Howe Sound this
week. The major maritime security presence has been the RCMP’s west coast
fleet, with its three large catamaran patrol vessels – Higgit, Nadon and
Inkster – in Vancouver harbour and False Creek, assisted
by the
Vancouver police marine section, along with a number of smaller
RCMP water craft and several naval rigid-hulled inflatable boats, or RHIBs.

There are
several elements of the Canadian Forces that will keep remain unseen unless absolutely
necessary; the elite commandos of Joint Task Force 2 are sequestered far away
from prying eyes. In fact, there are probably at least two cadres of JTF2 at
the Olympics, one in Whistler and one in Vancouver. Then there are the underwater
demolition teams made up of naval clearance divers and the army’s combat
engineer dive teams. 

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