No light packing for US president

ONE thing you can take for granted about US President Barack Obama’s visit to Ireland next week: he won’t be travelling light.

While the finer details of his visit have yet to be announced, the Irish public will get its first chance to see Mr Obama when a White House cavalcade — complete with armoured limousines, helicopters, hundreds of US secret service staff and a six-doctor medical team — sweeps into the country.

Mr Obama will have White House kitchen staff with him to prepare his meals while his 500 security staff check for bugs and bacteria that could be used in attacks against the president.

Upon arrival at Dublin Airport, Mr Obama will step off the US presidential jet, Air Force One, which is fitted with its own gym, electronic defence units and shielded to protect its communication devices from radiation from nuclear blasts.

Mr Obama will travel into the city in his personal limousine, nicknamed “The Beast”, a $300,000 car so tough it could withstand a rocket-propelled grenade.

The Beast will be easily identifiable and will travel at all times dozens of support cars, garda cars, ambulances and fire engines.

Fitted with night-vision camera, reinforced steel plating, tear-gas cannon and oxygen tanks, the vehicle is the ultimate in heavy armoured transport. It has a lock safety system that seals off the car like a bank vault in case of an emergency.

Mr Obama is expected to deliver a speech in front of 30,000 people, although the location in not yet known.

Hundreds of surveillance cameras will be in operation, so any threat to “renegade”, Mr Obama’s Secret Service codename, should be spotted by his security.

Then he’s off to Moneygall, Co Offaly. He is expected to travel in a VH-3D helicopter known as Marine Onem, which is fitted with flares that confuse heat-seeking missiles and always flies in groups containing several identical helicopters.

While he is expected to stay in Moneygall for no more than an hour, thousands of gardaí will be present to seal off the village and there will be at least 300 US Secret Service men ready to pounce in the event of an attack.

Should there be an incident, there is a White House medical unit always at hand to provide emergency care — the team includes surgeons, nurses and other medical personnel and carries supplies of blood of the type AB, Mr Obama’s blood group.

And then, like a flash, he’ll be gone again


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