Armed soldiers may be stationed in Athens

WASHINGTON -- 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

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

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.