High Security for Mr. Obama's Packed Diplomacy: G20, NATO, & EU
When a sitting United States President travels, not only the White House travels with him, the Secret Service members will also be on extra high alert to protect the US President at all times.
It will be no different for Mr. Obama when he travels to Europe as President of the United States this week. Every conceivable security measure has been meticulously put in place to protect President Obama on his first official visit to Britain, and later to neighboring countries.
US security teams have already carried out three visits to prepare for Obama's first official visit to Britain. The first was a "site survey", the second a "pre-advance visit" which was carried out to pick sites that the president would visit. Finally there was the "advance trip", which took place last week. Its purpose was to set up equipment, sweep venues for electronic bugs, test food for poison and measure air quality for bacteria
As you all know, the President will depart from Andrews Air Force Base about 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, traveling to London, where he'll arrive about 7:45 p.m. local time, and then spend the bulk of Wednesday and Thursday at the G20 summit.
After the G20 London Summit, President Obama will head to France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and his 8-day trip will end in Turkey, the first predominantly Muslim country to host the new US President.
It is not surprising that President Obama is cramming as much diplomatic activities as possible in this trip, since US foreign policy has had to take a backseat to the domestic crisis and problems that have consumed his attention since becoming President.
According to the White House press briefing, President Obama will participate in three summits, hold numerous bilateral meetings, and deliver a major speech on arms proliferation. In Turkey, he will host a Q&A discussion with young people that might be partly done on the Internet. Final arrangements are being coordinated and worked on by several embassies in the region to reach out to young people to participate in the Q&A session.
"This is his time to make his pitch to world leaders," said Christian Weller, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress.
Indeed, despite all the heat and fury over this week's G20, the most important work might actually emerge from the meetings that Obama and his team have scheduled on the side, far away from the debate over the economic crisis. In effect, if the G20 were a party with a guest list, then Obama's series of mini-summits would be a VIP room; open only to a select few powerful players and conducted firmly behind closed doors.
Once Air Force One touches down at Stansted airport on Tuesday, Mar. 31, President Obama will be flown to the United States Ambassador's residence at Regent's Park in North London.
Further, when traveling around London, President Obama will be driven in his official car, nicknamed The Beast, with its titanium and ceramic superstructure designed to withstand chemical attack and explosion. On the ground, there are more than 200 Secret Service members who are tasked to protect Mr. Obama, while another group of Secret Service agents is tasked to protect Mrs. Obama during their separate events outside of the US Embassy's ground.
An estimated 500 people will make up Mr Obama's entourage, 200 secret service agents, as well as policy makers, and support staff.
He will fly to Britain Tuesday morning on Air Force One, flanked by cargo planes which will hold all the transportation he needs while in Europe.
An estimated 35 vehicles will be brought to the UK for the presidential visit.
A US Air Force C-17 transporter will bring Mr Obama's armor-plated limousine, nicknamed The Beast, which is strong enough to withstand a chemical attack. It will also carry Marine One, the VH-3D helicopter that will transfer Mr Obama from Stansted airport to the US Ambassador's residence near Regent's Park in North London.
Marine One never flies alone for security reasons and is just one among a number of decoy helicopters, designed to confuse potential terrorists.
Britain security is also on high alert against any assassination attempts not only from Al Qaeda, but possibly from extreme racists enraged by the 44th US President, for being an African American.
As the plane enters UK airspace, it will be shadowed by a squadron of RAF fighter jets before landing at Stansted.
Within minutes, the Obamas will be flown by either a Blackhawk or Sea King helicopter into Central London, where they will stay at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park.
SAS troops, who have a secret base nearby, are expected to work with US Secret Service agents to ensure a ‘ring of steel’ round the Obamas.
London's high priority is to protect 20 world leaders of the wealthiest nation while coping with thousands of protesters expected to bring the city to a standstill.
It is estimated that there are several thousand police officers who will stand ready and prepare for any unlikely event that might occur during the G20 Summit. In other words, London will turn into a fortress for the 20 visiting heads of state.
The security operation to protect delegates attending the G20 conference is far from straightforward. The police have had to prepare for every possibility – from terrorism to riots to green custard incidents and must manage a crowd ranging from novice protesters to hardcore anarchists.
The G20 Summit will be held at the Excel Centre in London's Docklands.
The priority is to secure the summit venue, the ExCeL centre in Docklands. The ExCeL centre has the advantage of having water on one side and it is easy to put a ring of steel around the building. This will involve police marine launches, surveillance cameras, barriers, checkpoints and cordons.
Once that is done the security focus will be on protecting the delegates' journeys in and out of the venue.
It is unlikely that the leader of the free world will have any opportunity to mingle with Londoners in any casual setting, but instead, there will be some informal gatherings of British officials to meet the US President and Mrs. Obama..
A summary of President Obama's jam-packed schedule according to his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during Mar. 28 briefing.
Wednesday: Meetings with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Prime Minister and David Cameron. Bilateral meetings with Russian Federation President Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Thursday: G20 Summit. Bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Singh of India, President Lee of South Korea, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Friday: NATO meeting in Strasbourg. Bilateral meetings with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy.
Saturday: NATO Summit in Strasbourg.
Sunday: EU Summit in Prague, Czech Republic. Bilateral meetings with President Klaus and Prime Minister Topolanek; former President Vaclav Havel, the President of the European Commission, and Spain's President of the Government. During that day, Mr. Obama will deliver his foreign policy speech.
Monday: Visits Ankara and Istanbul Turkey. President Obama conducts Q&A dialogue with young people.
Tuesday: Concludes visit in Turkey. President Obama heads home to the United States.
Previous G20 Article by this Writer:
G-20 Ministers Vowed To Tackle Global Financial Crisis
Most Recommended Comment
New York, New York, United States