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Multi-million dollar team of 500 staff come along for ride


IT MAY be a flying 24-hour visit -- but US President Barack Obama is not travelling lightly.

A multi-million dollar entourage of 500 staff, a fleet of decoy helicopters and amour-plated limousines will move towards the Aras after Air Force One touches down this morning.

His White House cavalcade -- complete with 200 Secret Service staff and a six-doctor medical team -- accompany him on every overseas trip.

Among the staggering mass of hi-tech security equipment is the $300,000 (€212,244) presidential limousine, known as 'The Beast'.

It is fitted with night-vision cameras, reinforced steel plating and a tear-gas cannon.

'The Beast' has its own respiration system in case of chemical attack. The armoured petrol tank fills with foam if the car is hit to stop it from exploding.

It also houses a private phone system, so no matter what country Mr Obama is in, he can direct-dial America.

Air Force One, a Boeing 747-200B, is fitted with its own gym, electronic defence units and shielding to protect its communication devices from the radiation of possible nuclear blasts.

Among the officials on the flight will be a military officer carrying America's nuclear missile launch codes.

A second 747 filled with staff and media will fly behind his plane. Cargo planes carrying a fleet of helicopters arrived last week.

The planes also carry all food and drink for the trip and Mr Obama's road transport, which includes two, five-tonne, bullet proof Cadillac DeVilles and 30 other motorcade cars.

Mr Obama's helicopter, Marine One, is fitted with flares that can be fired to confuse heat-seeking missiles and always flies in groups containing several identical decoy helicopters.

While in town, Mr Obama will be guarded by more than 200 US Secret Servicemen -- easily identifiable by their shirt-cuff radios and Ray-Ban sunglasses.

And should anything befall him, a White House medical unit will be on hand to provide emergency care.

The team consists of surgeons, nurses and other medical personnel, and carries supplies of the blood type AB, Mr Obama's blood group.

At the same time, Mr Obama will be constantly minded by his personal aide, Reggie Love, who dials his BlackBerry and supplies him with snacks and Nicorette gum.

For mealtimes, a team from the White House kitchen will travel with Mr Obama to prepare all of his food.

Communication with the outside world will not be a problem -- Air Force One is equipped with 85 telephones, 19 televisions and computer suites so he is constantly connected.