Kolkata; In the spring of 2015, Lutyens Delhi was transformed into a virtual fortress just ahead of and during the visit of the then United States president Barack Obama. A similar scenario is set to descend upon the western Indian city of Ahmedabad and the national capital of New Delhi for the forthcoming visit of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on February 24-25. Both Ahmedabad and New Delhi are set to be under a lockdown during Trump’s 36-hour whirlwind tour of India that will also feature a whistle-stop visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Sources in Ahmedabad told Gulf News on Thursday that an advance team from the US Secret Services had reached the city last week itself to work out the finer details of the president’s security, in close coordination with Gujarat state police and Central agencies. The first batch of heavily fortified vehicles that form part of the US president’s motorcade arrived at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport last Monday on a massive C-17 Globemaster transport plane. Four more Globemaster planes carrying more defence and intelligence equipment such as spy cameras, radio jammers, fire safety equipment and sniper units will reach Ahmedabad by Saturday.
Seven aircraft from US Air Force will accompany Trump, carrying tonnes of cargo comprising equipment and personnel on February 24. While US Secret Service personnel will form the innermost ring around Trump, India’s elite commando force Chetak, members of state and central intelligence agencies, Special Protection Group, commandos of National Security Guard and local police personnel will constitute the outer circles of a multi-layered security apparatus comprising men and machines to ensure an impregnable cover for the US president.
Right from Air Force One, the Boeing 747 aircraft that is a virtual White House of sorts in the sky in terms of security and logistics, to the Cadillac ‘Beast’ limousine that ferries the president on land no matter in which part of the globe he is, the US president’s security apparatus is a fascinating combination of high-tech gizmos and human intelligence inputs. Here we look at some of the equipment and personnel that help ensure a comprehensive safety net around the most powerful man on earth:
Air Force One:
The Air Force-designated call sign for the aircraft is VC-25A. It’s a Boeing 747-200B commercial aircraft that is custom-made and modified to create a White House in the skies! This amazing flying machine is the official aircraft used by the president for all his travel within as well as outside the United States. Apart from providing all the necessary logistical support that the president would need to discharge his duties while on the go, this specially-made aircraft is equipped with a fire-shield that can deter heat-sensing missiles and rockets and is capable of launching a nuclear war. It has radar jammers and can be refuelled mid-air. Air Force One has a total on-board space of about 4,000 square feet that includes suites for the president, separate areas for members of the media, dining area and even an operation theatre for the president.
The Cadillac Beast:
Two specially designed and identical Cadillac limousines bearing the licence plate number 800-002 ferry the US president whenever and wherever he is travelling on land. These vehicles are airlifted by giant Globemaster aircraft to all overseas locations when the president is travelling. Armoured body plates, bulletproof window shields and front and back windshields, a refrigerator containing the president’s blood samples are just a few examples that go into the making of The Beast a virtually insurmountable security behemoth. The Beast has night-vision cameras and even grenade-launchers to counter every conceivable security threat.
Marine One helicopter:
This helicopter is usually a part of the president’s travel and tour party for all international trips. Two types of helicopter models are used to constitute Marine One: VH-3D Sea King and VH-60N White Hawk. Interestingly, Marine One mostly flies as part of a formation comprising several other similar-looking helicopters that serve as a dummy to the main one. Apart from very advanced communications systems, Marine One choppers are equipped with anti-missile defence systems that provide air-cover to the president from a height that would be otherwise difficult for a bigger and heavier fighter plane to operate at.
This SUV is usually the second vehicle in the president’s motorcade. It carries hand-picked members of the US Secret Service and is driven closest to the presidential limousine. This vehicle carries the team that is entrusted with the responsibility to react first in case of any emergency situation.
This is usually a Ford-made SUV fitted with advanced communication equipment that keeps the US president connected with top officials in the White House through fully encrypted communication channels. This vehicle is also fitted with radio and other satellite and wireless communication jamming devices and can deactivate any remote-controlled detonator in the vicinity. It has a huge dome-like structure mounted on its roof that acts as the principal jamming device.
US Secret Service:
The Secret Service employs approximately 3,200 special agents, 1,300 Uniformed Division officers and more than 2,000 specially-trained personnel for administrative, logistical and technical support. Members of the Secret Service form the closest human shield around the president, both on land and in air, and are the first nodal point of reaction in case of an emergency. During Trump’s visit to India on February 24-25, anywhere between 50-100 of these sharp-eyed, highly trained personnel will be deployed around Trump around the clock.
1. Air Force One: A Boeing 747-200B aircraft that even withstand a nuclear attack constitutes a virtual White House in the skies.
2. Marine One: Sea King and White Hawk helicopters that provide air cover and surveillance for the president’s movements from close to the ground.
3. The Beast: A custom-made, heavily modified Cadillac limousine that is the US president’s official vehicle for all land movements within as well as outside the US.
4. Chevrolet Suburban: The SUV that is closest to the presidential limousine and is the first point of reaction in case of any emergency.
5. Roadrunner: A custom-built Ford SUV that carries equipment to keep the president connected with the White House. It also has radio jammers to deter any remote-controlled detonator.
6. Secret Service: A massive team of specially-trained personnel that forms the innermost human security-ring around the president.