Inside Secrets of the US President’s Motorcade
This is the most expensive and complicated motorcade in the world with around 50 vehicles and over 100 personnel the united states presidential motorcade has a single objective.
“keep the president alive”
At the heart of the motorcade is the car that carries the president himself known as the ‘beast’ but it’s less of a limo and more of a comfy tank the presidential car is also known as “Cadillac One” is designed to withstand any and all attacks.
The beast costs around one and a half million dollars and weighs in at a whopping 20,000 pounds which is about the same weight as a tyrannosaurus rex.
Every secret service agent has to pass a five-day protective driving course and those who end up behind the wheel of the president’s limo undertake even more advanced training.
The doors are eight-inch thick the windows will stop a bullet from a magnum and the floor is built on a modified truck bed with armour floor plates to protect from bombs and grenades it’s even hermetically sealed to prevent biological attacks with its own oxygen supply on board.
You’ll find rocket-powered grenades, night vision optics a tear gas cannon, pump-action shotguns and even two litres of the president’s blood type but as we all know it’s not just one car that keeps the president moving there’s a whole fleet of vehicles that play their role
When the president’s in transit in fact the beast containing the president isn’t even the only beast involved there are at least two identical armoured limos in every motorcade both with matching registration plates this means that potential attackers have no clue which one contains the actual sitting president and these two limos make up just one part of the motorcade known as the ‘secure package’.
The vehicles in the secure package are designed to break away from the motorcade should an attack take place also in the secure package is the united states secret service counter measures suburban this car jams any remote explosives that might be on route using two antennas that send out a huge range of radio frequencies that block any bomb activation signal.
It also has electronic warfare sensors that detects if an RPG or anti-tank missile is launched it’s believed that if it did detect a rocket the car would release smoke canisters across a secure package to throw off grenades and or missiles however that’s just speculation because it’s obviously classified.
After that comes three separate SUVs with one distinct difference two of them have their rear window open and one doesn’t, these two SUVs are called the ‘HALF BACK‘ and the ‘CAT CAR‘ if the president’s in danger it’s the job of the halfback to defend the beast and the job of the cat car to take the fight to the insurgents the reason their rear window is open well that’s so the rear-facing passengers can open fire at a moment’s notice the car with the closed rear window is the control car, the control car carries the most essential staff such as the president’s military aid and doctor.
In front of the secure package you’ll find the Route Car, Pilot Car, Lead Car and a whole host of motorbikes known as ‘Sweepers‘ the route and pilot car scout the route ahead and relay information to the lead car which leads to secure package to the motorcades behind them the motorbikes are in charge of clearing the way for the motorcade by ushering cars out of the way and by blocking off roads and junctions this role may seem simple but should the convoy need to be diverted for whatever reason the rout and pilot cars must be able to react and communicate that quickly.
One example of this was back in 1996 then-president Bill Clinton was visiting the Philippines and was scheduled to meet with a local politician in manila during the journey intelligence officers picked up a message containing the words ‘Bridge‘ and ‘Marriage‘ while this may seem like no big deal to you or me this sent alarm bells going off throughout the motorcade this is because ‘Marriage‘ was known to be a code word for ‘Assassination‘ the motorcade diverted away from an upcoming bridge thanks to the quick thinking of all involved soon after it was discovered that a bomb had been planted under that bridge.
Behind the secure package is a fleet of support vehicles including the ID Car which liaises with other counter-surveillance agencies the roadrunner which acts as a mobile communications centre and the hazardous materials mitigation unit which contains equipment and personnel that can respond to chemical, nuclear and biological attacks.
As well as vehicles containing more secret service agents, politicians, emergency personnel and members of the press now all this may seem like a lot and that nothing could ever go wrong but the secret service actually views it as the exact opposite to them “the safest motorcade is no motorcade“.
Travelling by car is seen as one of the moments when the president is at their most vulnerable so the motorcade will only be used for journeys of 30 minutes or less for everything else there’s ‘Marine One‘ and ‘Air Force One‘ it’s estimated that this one trip which takes around an hour costs over 150,000 $ so, in short, it’s an expensive business protecting the most powerful person in the world but many would argue it’s a small price to pay