10 measures which will be used to keep Donald Trump safe in the UK
As President of the United States and owner of a vast business empire, Donald Trump is perhaps the most valuable human asset to have ever lived. However, he is also a divisive figure with detractors in many corners. The announcement of his state visit to the UK came amid a flurry of anger and promises of protests even larger than those seen during his last visit.
While the current US president is the richest ever, he is certainly not the most popular. Perhaps as a consequence, the Trump administration, secret service and local police officers are stepping up the security ahead of his three-day visit to the UK which commences on Monday. So here are the top 10 measures being taken to keep POTUS safe in Britain.
10. The motorcade
The presidential motorcade, a convoy of specially adapted vehicles designed to pander to the president’s every possible need, may exceed 20 vehicles and isn’t obliged to stop at red lights. The motorcade will likely include lead police units, aides and doctors, an ambulance, press teams and personnel from the secret service, electronic defence, control and support, counter assault, intelligence, hazardous materials and satellite communications. This is in addition to the rear guard, protecting the motorcade from behind, and - of course - the presidential limousine and decoy.
9. The “Beast”
Otherwise known as Cadillac One, POTUS’s notoriously bulletproof vehicle has a range of unusual features. For one, it has an identical twin with the same “800-002” Washington DC licence plates. The Beast weighs in at around 20,000 pounds (nine tonnes) making it four times the weight of a Chevrolet Silverado. This is thanks to its extensive armour, steel plate underbelly and bulletproof windows. The car is also said to have tear gas grenade launchers, night vision capabilities, an inbuilt satellite phone, extensive medical supplies and even stocks of the president’s own blood. That said, it’s unlikely that the Beast will ever get stuck - because its reinforced steel rims mean the car can even drive with flat tyres. These vehicles do, however, struggle with ramps.
8. The nuclear “football”
In order to keep himself and his country safe, the commander-in-chief needs to be able to use his nuclear deterrent at any time. According to the Washington Post, he is therefore always in the company of a military aide carrying a satchel known as the "football". This contains “gold codes” which enable the launch of nuclear weapons. The president has a plastic card known as a “biscuit” - not to be confused with any onboard sundries - which can only be read once its opaque plastic covering has been snapped in half and removed.
7. A 1,000-strong entourage
It’s thought that during his last visit to the UK, the president was joined by a 1,000-strong entourage - including an estimated 150 secret service personnel. According to Matt Chorley of the Times, 750 rooms were booked out at London’s Buckingham Palace. This year, among other engagements at the palace, Trump will enjoy a state banquet in the ballroom.
6. Thousands of police officers from all over the country
There will be an extensive police operation in order to keep POTUS safe from the perils of the Great British public. Protesters have previously referenced the expense of the visit however, the security is increased in accordance with the level of protest. This year, organisations such as the Stop Trump Coalition and Stand Up to Trump are expected to be present and vocal. Trump’s four-day visit to Britain last year cost £14.2m ($17.9m) in policing bills. However, this year, it’s thought that this figure could reach £18m ($22.7m).
5. The “Bubble”
In what is commonly referred to as the “Bubble”, POTUS is also protected from danger in a slightly more abstract way. Within his entourage, all forms of communication are controlled. “Once you're in the bubble, you can't chat with those who aren't ‘clean’,” explains the BBC’s Tara McKelvey, on her experience of travelling within the protective press pool. “This keeps the president safe. It also cuts you off from the world - and shows the cloistered nature of the one he inhabits.” This sense of isolation is something which former president Barack Obama made reference to many times, especially in terms of the unique and somewhat limiting perspective it gave his daughters on life.
4. Hospitals will be notified
When the president is on the move, local hospitals are generally notified and agents are said to ensure that he is never more than 10 minutes away from a trauma hospital, where an agent will be stationed. This goes some way to show the enormous amount of effort which goes into planning various contingency measures to ensure the president is looked after in all possible eventualities.
3. Presidential perimeters
According to Jeffrey Robinson, co-author of Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service, three perimeters are established around the president. The outer perimeter is formed of police, the middle perimeter of secret service agents and the last line of defence by the Presidential Protective Division.
2. Marine One(s)
The president will bring a fleet of helicopters with him to the UK. These are collectively referred to, somewhat confusingly, as both Marine One or “white tops”. The president will likely travel in a Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King or a VH-60N White Hawk. The president’s helicopter is usually accompanied by a range of decoys in addition to Osprey MV-22 VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft - known as “green tops” - which fit somewhere between a helicopter and a plane.
1. Air Force One(s)
President Trump will step onto the tarmac at Stansted Airport on Monday, exiting a modified Boeing 747 with the tail code 28000 or 29000 (yep, there are two Air Forces Ones). The specially adapted jumbo jet has 85 onboard telephones and acts as a mobile command centre. As well as office and meeting spaces - and president’s quarters, complete with bed and gym - the plane also has 13 seats for the aforementioned protective press pool. These journalists and photographers have the important task of disseminating information from the president, in transit, to the wider media.
As already mentioned in part, all of these gadgets, gizmos and bodyguards come at a price. For instance, the cost of running Air Force One is $180,000 (£116,000) per hour. Clearly, as the most powerful person on the planet, POTUS receives only the best of everything.