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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: U.S. commits special forces troops to Olympics

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posted on Jul, 21 2004 @ 01:40 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Responding to a request from Greece, the United States has committed 400 American special forces soldiers to help protect next month's Athens Olympics, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Wednesday.

It is not yet decided whether the armed soldiers would be in Athens, on the nearby island of Crete or remain on alert in Europe, where they are based in Germany, the official said. The United States is in the process of discussing with the Greek government where the soldiers will be positioned, the official said.

The decision on where to send the soldiers is mostly up to the Greek government but will be made jointly with Gen. James Jones, the top NATO commander who also is commander of U.S. forces in Europe, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In any event, there will be up to 50 U.S. communications and other liaison personnel assigned to the Aug. 13-29 games, the official said.

Shadowing the Olympics is the fear of terror attacks. The United States plans to send State Department Diplomatic Security agents as well as FBI agents to Greece.

Israel, which lost 11 athletes to Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Games, will send armed guards and is among a half-dozen countries contributing security expertise at Greece's request.

Still, the brunt of securing the games rests with the Greeks, whose pride at being the hosts is tempered by private concerns. Greek officials have said confidently they are on top of the security problem.

Greek police and U.S. counterterrorism sources told The Associated Press earlier this month that armed U.S. agents would watch over athletes during a pre-Olympic training camp on the island of Crete. Also, a Greek official said Wednesday in Athens that the games' security budget, already the highest in Olympic history, was now about $1.5 billion.

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