EUCOM ready to help with Olympics security
ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. European Command forces are ready to help with security for the Summer Olympics in Athens, but the government of Greece has not yet asked for the Pentagon’s assistance, according to a senior EUCOM official.
“There’s no commitment by the United States to provide anything right now,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Kohler, director of Plans and Policy for EUCOM in Stuttgart, Germany, said Thursday. “But we feel in EUCOM that we’ve done our homework, and we’re prepared for several different aspects that might unfold.”
EUCOM liaison officers participate in the Olympics Security Assistance Group, or OSAG, a seven-nation advisory body that includes France, Germany, Britain, Spain and the United States, Israel and Australia, Kohler said in an interview with Stars and Stripes in his Pentagon office.
OSAG, in turn, is a major advisor to the Greek government as it plans security for the Olympic Games, which will be held Aug. 13–29.
Meanwhile, as part of its established military-to-military relationship with Greece, EUCOM has been working on Olympic security issues with the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Hellenic Navy and the Hellenic Air Force, Kohler said.
“We’ve shared lessons learned from Salt Lake City [Olympic Games] — how to set up air coordination centers and share that with the civil authorities — that sort of thing,” he said.
EUCOM forces have also held Olympic-themed exercises with Greece, including a “consequence management” exercise in Stuttgart that included both Greek government officials and police.
With the assistance of the National Defense University in Washington, EUCOM “walked [Greek participants] through three or four different scenarios, using the [Olympic security] structure they had already set up,” Kohler said.
The point of that drill, Kohler said, was to show the Greeks “where they might have problems or pitfalls, where they might find their system overstressed.”
“We pushed them to the limit, until they said ‘Uncle,’” he said. “It offered them some insight into where they might have gaps and where they might need some assistance.”
EUCOM held another “really large” Olympic security exercise with Greece in April, Kohler said.
Although the Greek government has asked NATO to provide security assets from the alliance’s new NATO Response Force and NATO’s standing Mediterranean fleet, there has been no separate request to the United States for Pentagon help.
“We’re waiting for specific guidance to [either] do something, or to sit back and watch [the Olympic Games] on TV,” Kohler said.
He said military assets belonging to the United States and other OSAG members, such as Britain, are heavily committed in Iraq.
Without advance warning, Kohler said, equipment and personnel Greece decides it needs to help secure the Olympics might not be available for the games.
“Not only our ambassador, but other ambassadors involved [in OSAG] have been telling the Greeks … ‘We all want to help you, we want the Olympics to succeed, we want Greece to succeed, but you’ve got to make some decisions,’” Kohler said.