US security services leave nothing to chance


The Secret Service provides physical protection to the highest elected leaders and other government officials. To safeguard Secret Service protectees, the agency does not discuss the specifics and methods of its security operations.

Permanent protectees such as the president and first lady, have details of special agents permanently assigned to them. The protection of an individual is comprehensive and goes beyond surrounding the individual with well-armed agents.

The agency relies on meticulous advance work and threat assessments developed by its intelligence division to identify potential risks to protectees.

For protective visits, teams of Secret Service personnel travel in advance and conduct site surveys, which assess needs for manpower, equipment, hospitals and evacuation routes for emergencies.

Fire, rescue and other public service personnel in the host country are alerted. Before a protectee arrives at any site, a lead advance agent coordinates all law enforcement representatives participating in the visit. Intelligence information is discussed and emergency options are outlined.

Prior to the arrival of the protectee, checkpoints are established and access to the secured area is limited. During protective visits, Secret Service and local law enforcement personnel form a network of support for members of the detail working in close proximity to the protectee. A Secret Service command post acts as the communication centre for protective activities, monitors emergencies and keeps all participants in contact with one another.

After the visit, agents analyse every step of the protective operation, record unusual incidents and suggest improvements for the future. This is what is happening ahead of Obama’s visit and departure.

- Compiled from online sources by Hudson Gumbihi