Un interessante articolo della Stratfor sulla pianificazione di una visita presidenziale…
On June 13, U.S. President George W. Bush surprised the world by making a sudden, unannounced visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad to meet newly sworn-in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Months ago, Bush had mentioned to aides that he wanted to visit Baghdad as soon as possible after the Iraqi government’s formation was complete; appointments to three final Cabinet positions were made June 8.
Though planning for Bush’s trip to Iraq might have begun shortly after Bush spoke to his aides, the specific arrangements for Bush’s arrival would have begun in earnest about three to five days before the trip. Though the visit to Baghdad was carried out under an apparent veil of secrecy, the details for security would have required coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, the U.S. military and other government agencies. Moving the president is a complicated process requiring meticulous and extensive security preparations.
At approximately 7:45 on the night of June 12, Bush left the presidential retreat at Camp David by helicopter. Leaving from Camp David increased operational security (OPSEC); leaving from a remote location meant that Bush’s movements were hidden from the media. The same tactic was used for Bush’s November 2003 surprise visit to Baghdad, when he left from his ranch at Crawford, Texas.
Bush traveled from Camp David to Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, D.C., where the 89th Airlift Wing maintains aircraft for transporting high-ranking U.S. government officials. Instead of using one of the easily identifiable VIP transport helicopters, Bush was moved in a less-conspicuously marked aircraft. By 9:07 p.m., the president was airborne aboard Air Force One — in this case, a VC-25, a military version of the Boeing 747 modified for use as a VIP transport and fully outfitted with communications gear and defensive systems.
Any time the president flies, a secure air corridor patrolled by fighter and surveillance aircraft supported by aerial refueling craft is established, and normal air traffic is routed away from the corridor. The movement of these aircraft would have alerted foreign intelligence agencies — which always follow the movements of Air Force One, the call sign assigned to any U.S. Air Force aircraft transporting the president — to the president’s movement. In the case of Bush’s June 13 trip, the sudden creation and clearing of the corridor might have caused these agencies to have a difficult time figuring out exactly what was going on.
Once it was over Baghdad, Air Force One descended to Baghdad International Airport (BIA) in a "corkscrew" maneuver designed to thwart surface-to-air missile (SAM) attacks. Also, the VC-25 is equipped with a full suite of countermeasures designed to defeat heat-seeking and radar-guided SAMs. These include decoy flares that burn hotter than the aircraft’s exhaust and laser systems to turn heat-seeking SAMs off course, and strips of metal that eject from the aircraft to confuse radar-guided SAMs.
On the ground in Baghdad, a massive security operation was implemented to protect the president in the world’s most dangerous city. The U.S. Secret Service (USSS), which is responsible for the president’s security, very likely had a contingency plan for taking Bush to Baghdad. This plan could have been made and updated over a period of months; however, an assessment of the current security environment on the ground in Baghdad would have been made by an advance team approximately 72 hours before the president’s arrival. The USSS advance team, following established procedures, would have coordinated with the U.S. State Department’s regional security officer and other officials at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Throughout Bush’s visit, the USSS would have been at the center of security operations, with support from U.S. military units in Baghdad. At BIA, Delta Force, military countersniper teams and other specialized units working with regular units would have secured the airport’s perimeter. The USSS would have provided a secondary internal ring and had much the same functions as the units on the perimeter. The Technical Services Division of the USSS would have been on site to provide hazardous material response, explosives disposal and countersniper teams.
The helicopter flight to the fortified "Green Zone," where Bush met with al-Maliki, was the most dangerous part of the visit. The flight, in a heavily armored U.S. military helicopter, took approximately six minutes. Decoy flights departing BIA at the same time as Bush’s aircraft could have been used to add to OPSEC. The U.S. helicopters would have flown low and fast over Baghdad’s rooftops in order to minimize exposure to potential attackers.
Delta Force would have facilitated movement to and from the Green Zone. Inside the Green Zone, Bush would have been surrounded by an inner core of USSS agents from the Presidential Protective Detail, with additional security provided by U.S. military units. An armored motorcade would have been standing by to evacuate Bush in an instant in any emergency.
The security precautions implemented in Baghdad would have required advance planning and coordination between the USSS and U.S. military authorities in the city. This planning and coordination was most likely compartmentalized in order to enhance OPSEC, and executed in the days prior to the presidential visit without revealing the specific reason for the additional activity.
However long ago the idea for Bush’s latest visit to Baghdad came about, the tactical planning for the actual trip could have been developed in a relatively short time. With less time for other actors to get word of the plans and deduce their actual purpose, the secrecy surrounding the entire operation was further enhanced.