- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 11, 2012

LONDON — Britain put an extra 3,500 military personnel on standby Wednesday to protect venues at the London Olympics after a private contractor said it may not be able to provide enough security guards on time.

The contractor, G4S, had been enlisted to provide the bulk of the 13,200 private security guards across 100 venues but said in a statement that it may not hit its target because of problems recruiting and training staff.

In a statement, the government ministry in charge of crime and security said the troops will be ready to be deployed to cover any shortfall.

“We have agreed to offer help to G4S by revising the level of military support,” the Home Office said.

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond will confirm the full details to Parliament on Thursday in an official written ministerial statement, the Home Office said.

G4S insisted that it still hopes to be able to supply the guards, but Britain’s government is putting the troops on alert to be quickly deployed if the contractor cannot meet its obligations.

“This has been an unprecedented and very complex security recruitment, training and deployment exercise, which has been carried out to a tight timescale,” the company said.

“We have encountered some issues in relation to workforce supply and scheduling over the last couple of weeks but are resolving these every day.”

The firm said it accepted “that the government has decided to overlay additional resources.” It was not clear what, if any, penalties the company would face if it failed to meet its contract.

Main opposition Labor Party lawmaker Tessa Jowell, Olympics minister in the previous government, said the news is a concern with the London Games due to begin July 27.

“This is clearly a serious problem, and we have to understand how this problem arose,” she said.

Britain has committed $857 million for venue security, covering arenas in London and a number of additional locations across Britain, including a southern England sailing center and five soccer stadiums.

In the country’s mammoth Olympics security operation, 7,500 troops are already being deployed at venues, and 6,000 more had previously been put on stand-by to provide a range of security duties.

If all military personnel, including the extra forces announced Wednesday, were deployed, the total would be 17,000 - dwarfing the 9,500 troops Britain currently has on the ground in Afghanistan.

About 12,000 police, 3,000 volunteers, Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts are also part of the vast program aimed at securing the London Games.