SPP: Norad to be key player in Games security

Posted by admin on May 10th, 2008

David Pugliese. The Ottawa Citizen. Saturday, May 10, 2008

The North American Aerospace Defence Command is already planning how it will protect the 2010 Olympics with potentially everything from fighter aircraft to sophisticated surveillance planes. Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charlie Bouchard, deputy commander of the joint U.S.- Canada military organization Norad, says work is under way on how to best provide air protection for the Games in Vancouver and Whistler.

The RCMP is the lead agency in organizing security, but Norad has been given the job of providing protection from the air and monitoring the airspace over the Olympics. Much of the work will be done by the Canadian Norad regional command, but Lt.-Gen. Bouchard said that organization will have the full capabilities of Norad to draw from.

“We at the strategic level will shape the strategic environment around them to make sure they succeed, whether it is (with) the provision of a co-ordinated air picture, whether it’s the provision of additional assets they may require and are looking at (including) everything from fighters to aerial refuellers to AWACS to ground-based radars,” he said.

AWACS are specialized surveillance planes that can detect aircraft as far away as 400 kilometres.

Last summer, the military created its Joint Task Force Games, which is now operating out of Victoria. At this point, the Joint Task Force Games headquarters has around 25 personnel, but that is expected to grow this summer and, by the time the Olympics roll around, it will be more than 200.

Since there is already naval security on the West Coast, work will focus on how much to increase that for the Olympics. Already, Canadian navy divers have been used to map out the seafloor of the Vancouver harbour. Aurora patrol aircraft are also flying missions to collect images of various areas.

As far as security on the land, the RCMP is looking at whether Canadian troops will be needed to monitor some of the more difficult mountain and forest approaches around the Olympic venues.

Lt.-Gen. Bouchard said co-ordinating air security for large events in not new for Norad, which celebrates its 50th anniversary Monday. In January, fighter aircraft flew missions for Norad to provide protection for the Super Bowl. Aircraft have also been involved in security for space shuttle launches and will be on hand for the Democratic and Republican national conventions and the Indianapolis 500.

More recently, Norad-controlled aircraft have been used to intercept Russian military planes as they approach North American airspace.

Lt.-Gen. Bouchard acknowledged that Russian aerial activity in the North has increased significantly over the last 10 months. The focus, however, is not on Russian aircraft, but any unknown aerial intruder into North American airspace, Lt.-Gen. Bouchard said.

“As I look down the road, I’m not only concerned with Russian long- range aviation, I’m concerned with smugglers and all kinds of terrorist activities that may take place,” he said.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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