This week, Obama will fly into London to take part in the G20 summit in the capital’s Docklands area. He will not be travelling light.
For the last two weeks, we have watched as politician after politician has pilloried American business executives for using their “corporate” jets.
Accompanying Obama will be an entourage of 500 staff, an armor-plated limousine. a fleet of decoy helicopters, 200 US secret service staff, a six-doctor medical team and his kitchen staff.
More than 500 officials and staff will accompany the president on his tour this week – along with a mass of high-tech security equipment, including the $300,000 presidential limousine, known as “The Beast.” Fitted with night-vision camera, reinforced steel plating, tear-gas cannon and oxygen tanks, the vehicle is the ultimate in heavy armored transport.
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.
Then to the linked story from the Uk: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/29/obama-london-visit-uk-g20
And should anything befall the President, a White House medical unit will be at hand to provide emergency care. The team consists of surgeons, nurses and other medical personnel and carries supplies of blood of the type AB, the president’s blood group. At the same time, Obama will be constantly minded by his personal aide Reggie Love, who dials his BlackBerry, fetches his jacket and tie and supplies him with snacks. First Lady Michelle Obama will also have a coterie of assistants, including a secretary, a press officer and several bodyguards.
It is a striking presence and shows that, for the next few days, London, not Washington, will be the beating heart of American foreign policy. At the end of the week Obama and his massive retinue will head off for meetings in France, Germany and the Czech Republic, although not before he has indulged in an unprecedented whirlwind of diplomatic activity – he and his advisers will not just be involved in complex summit negotiations, but will also be camped out in London conducting a series of individual high-level mini-summits with the most powerful leaders in the world.
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. [Will he be meeting “behind closed doors with Bildeberg Group and the Trilateral Commission?]
The schedule is hectic and the subjects are weighty. On Wednesday, Obama will hold his first bilateral talks with President Hu Jintao of China. The meeting of America’s first black president at a time of almost unprecedented economic crisis with the leader of the world’s foremost rising power is historic. It comes at a time when China has been asserting its international role and taking on the US by talking of replacing the dollar as the main international currency and having a recent naval showdown with a US spy ship in the South China Sea. On the same day, Obama will also meet Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, again in the first face-to-face talks between the two. Subjects up for discussion will include ways to co-operate to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions and debate over plans for a US missile shield that Russia views as a hostile act.
But that will be just the beginning. On Thursday, Obama will hold his first personal meeting with India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh. Their discussions will be crucial, given the fact that the explosive situation in India’s neighbour, Pakistan, is the most pressing foreign policy concern of Obama’s administration. Then, just to add another massively complex problem to an already exhaustive list, Obama will hold bilateral talks with the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak. That chat comes against the backdrop of an increasingly erratic North Korea, which is threatening to attack the South and is moving to launch a long-range missile which Japan has said it might try to shoot down. “He does have a huge amount of challenges to try to tackle,” said Larry Haas, a political commentator and former aide in the Clinton White House.
That is putting it mildly. But Obama is far from alone in dealing with his intense schedule. At his London “diplomatic base camp” will be an array of the best and the brightest from his new administration. Chief among them will be former rival Hillary Clinton, now secretary of state and the public face of American diplomacy. His famously combative chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, will also be travelling to London on Air Force One. Obama’s economic team includes Larry Summers, head of the National Economic Council, and Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Apart from the 200 secret service personnel who will follow Obama on his European tour, the president’s entourage will also include representatives of the White House Military Office, the White House Transportation Agency, the White House Medical Unit, the Marine Corps Helicopter Squadron, the State Department Presidential Travel Support Service, the US Information Agency, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service and the Customs Service.
In addition, there will be staff from the White House kitchen ready to turn out a quick burger should the president suddenly feel peckish.
Michelle Obama will have eight of her own staff, including a secretary, a press officer and bodyguards. And Obama’s personal aide Reggie Love – called by the president “the kid brother I never had” – will be at hand to provide pens, Nicorette gum, throat lozenges, tea or even aspirins.
Read the rest here
So while America reaches for their boxes of macaroni and cheese, cups of ramen noodles, and hot dogs from the fridge, think about what Obama is indulging in……
And the COST of this trip? I would guess at least THREE MILLION+ dollars. Trips in Air Force One are not cheap, especially “across the pond”, the cost and lodging of the 200 Secret Service men, the entourage of his ‘mini’ group of advisors, Clinton, Summers, Emanuel, Love, etc. their food and lodging, etc. It WON’T BE CHEAP……
I wonder if Obama’s manicurist comes too?
UPDATE: From http://www.theobamafile.com/ObamaLatest.htm
And, speaking of Obama’s 500-plus G-20 entourage, The Washington Times is reporting that Obama’s European visit this week has strained the US Air Force’s heavy-airlift capabilities and obliged the military to hire more foreign contractors to help resupply U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, according to military sources.
The large delegation traveling with the president in Europe required moving several transports, including jumbo C-5s and C-17s, from sorties ferrying supplies to Afghanistan to European bases for the presidential visit, said two military officials familiar with the issue. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid any misunderstanding with White House officials.
The Air Mobility Command, part of the U.S. Transportation Command, was ordered to provide airlift for the president’s entourage of nearly 500 people, including senior officials, staff, support personnel, news reporters and some 200 Secret Service agents for the European visit, which began Tuesday in London.
Airlift for the traveling entourage also was used to move the president’s new heavy-armored limousine and several presidential helicopters used for short transits.
To make up for the shortfall, the Air Force had to increase the number of Eastern European air transport contractors hired to fly Il-76 and An-124 transport jets into Afghanistan loaded with troop supplies, the two officials said.
The airlift crunch comes at a particularly difficult time, as the military is stepping up deliveries of supplies in advance of a surge of 21,000 U.S. troops.
One official said the problem was not only the vehicles and helicopters that were needed for presidential security, but also the unusually large number of people traveling with the president.
The official said U.S. taxpayers are paying twice for airlift, once for Air Force jets that are not available for a war zone and again for foreign contractor aircraft that are.