Obama Advance Team Arrives
A mini-America will descend on Kenya when US President Barack Obama visits his father’s homeland.
Obama will jet into Kenya in late July for bilateral meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Both men will also attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, an annual conference that connects entrepreneurs with business leaders, international organisations, and governments, in Nairobi.
AN advance team preparing for US President Barrack Obama’s visit to Kenya will be in the country by the end of the week.
His advance team drawn from the Secret Service and the White House will hold meetings with key Kenyan ecurity chiefs to map out Obama’s visit.
According to diplomatic sources, the team will also prepare a brief for US Secretary of State John Kerry who will be in the country on May 4.
The team expected mid-May will also draw up an evacuation plan for Obama especially the position of Airforce One and Marine One.
An American warship is already advancing the Indian Ocean waters close to Kenya as one of the security installations in preparation of the trip.
After the Garissa terror attack, Obama called Uhuru and reiterated his plan to visit Kenya, which is home to his father, despite the security concerns.
The team is supposed to draw up the route that Obama will use from his plane, the Airforce One, to the venue of the his meeting with Uhuru which is currently set to be State House, Nairobi.
Obama’s trip will build on the success of the August 2014 US-Africa Leaders’ Summit and continue efforts to work with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, to accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve security.
It remains unclear how long Obama will be in Kenya, or where he will go and who he will meet besides the President and selected members of the Cabinet and foreign state leaders at the summit.
However, one thing is clear – the White House is taking no chances with his security.
Obama will fly to Kenya on Air Force One, the presidential jumbo jet, one of the most luxurious airplanes in the world.
A highly customized Boeing 747-200B, Air Force One features the world’s most advanced secure airborne communications equipment and is designed and outfitted to function as a mobile command centre in the event of an attack on mainland America or even world war.
On arrival the US President will ride in The Beast, his custom-made limousine that is easily the safest road vehicle on the planet.
From JKIA, the most powerful man in the world will have between 30 and 50 non-Kenyan cars filled with US personnel in his motorcade. Most of these vehicles will be armoured and the men and women in them are among the most proficient and well-armed bodyguards and commandos in the world.
Obama’s Presidential Escort will comprise a small army of Secret Service agents armed with weaponry and technology that far outstrip those of other heads of state and government around the world.
More than 10 elite sniffer dogs will also be part of the security detail.
Hundreds of Kenyan policemen and women, as well the GSU’s fabled elite Recce Unit and military officers will be deployed to help with security, including crowd control and buildings and route security.
Sources close to the planning told the Star yesterday that some Secret Service agents who guard the US President have already been dispatched to Nairobi to start preparing for the highest-profile visit to Kenya of a foreign dignitary ever.
The advance team not only spent some time at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport assessing security, they have also minutely surveyed the route from JKIA to other places in the city where Obama is likely to visit.
Already, the Kenya Airports Authority is under pressure to completely separate the domestic terminal from the international one. Last week, KAA moved all domestic flights to a new location near the Presidential Pavilion.
“We are working round the clock to ensure many security arrangements are in place,” said a senior KAA manager yesterday.
It is also understood that US naval ships, including an aircraft carrier, will patrol offshore in the Indian for the duration of Obama’s visit. Most US aircraft carriers are better armed and equipped than most developing nations’ air forces.
This will be the President’s fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa. His last trip was in December 2013, for the funeral of Nelson Mandela. He also traveled to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania earlier in 2013 for a series of events on the United States’ commitment to African economic growth, democratic institutions and young leadership development.