A military commander has vowed to ensure that troops on standby to provide Olympic security have “the best possible accommodation” as Britain's Defence Secretary Philip Hammond visited their temporary camp in east London.
General Sir Nick Parker said he wants to make sure “soldiers feel valued and can do their job properly” after there were reports of some personnel using showers in local leisure facilities.
An additional 2,500 soldiers are being housed temporarily at the converted 19th-century warehouse, Tobacco Dock in Wapping, east London, to deal with the G4S security shortfall.
Mr Hammond was given a tour of the facilities, including the kitchen and dining areas and operation control rooms.
After meeting the soldiers, Mr Hammond said: “This is a perfect location for a temporary forward operating base, which is what this is.
“This is a sound, solid building and the military enablers who have been here since the beginning of the week have done a fantastic job of installing wi-fi and communications. They are now building the leisure facilities that the troops will have access to.
“They have field kitchens in here, there is a 24-hour catering operation running and the guys who are here will be comfortable. It’s basic accommodation but it’s the kind of accommodation they will be well used to because of their tours of duty in Afghanistan.”
A further 1,000 troops are to be housed in temporary accommodation in Hainault, Essex, and on military bases to make up for the G4S shortfall. Mr Hammond said the armed forces are “configured” to deal with the “unexpected” at short notice.
He said: “If we find that we need more people to ensure the safety and security of the Games we will bring them in, we won’t hesitate to bring them in if that is necessary but I hope it won’t be.
“The public will be hugely reassured to see so many military uniforms around, to see the military taking such a large part in the security arrangements.
“I can guarantee that we have not compromised any of the security standards.”
General Sir Nick Parker, standing joint commander for operations for the United Kingdom in support of the police, said: “We have got to give people the best possible accommodation that we can so that they do their job properly.
“But this is nothing like as bad as some of the conditions we would expect to live in and still do our job effectively. The task here is to make sure we make it as good as we possibly can so our soldiers feel valued and can do their job properly.
“Nobody wants to call people in at very short notice when they have holidays planned but it is a fact of life that this is what we do, we’re on standby and if we’re needed we have to drop everything and do what we are told to do.”
There have been recent reports of soldiers using showers in local leisure facilities and Gen Parker said “the local authority has been ”incredibly supportive“.
He said: “We’re building a camp here at very short notice, you will see the showers are being put in today and we will provide the soldiers with the facilities they need.”