Saturday, January 17, 2009

42,500 Security Personnel

Are working to protect the President -elect before, during and after his inaugural speech.  I can't imagine the amount of manpower required for this event.  Uniformed police officers will provide everything from traffic control to counter-sniper surveillance.  Undercover officers will be in the crowds trying to spot and prevent trouble-makers from getting out of hand.  Hundreds of officers will be manning surveillance cameras looking for threats.  Others will have the less glamorous assignment of manning the temporary jails that will house those who try to disrupt the proceedings.  Intelligence analysts from federal law enforcement agencies across the country will be monitoring networks and communications from fusions centers looking for telltale signs of trouble.  

The number above doesn't include the various Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard units performing perimeter defense and surveillance missions.  On Jan 20th, Washington DC will become the most heavenly defended no-fly zone in the world.  USAF and Air National Guard fighters will be conducting combat air patrols directed by AWACS and other radar sensors.  As Army air defenders are given to say, "If it flies, it dies".  Navy and Coast Guard ships will be patrolling all of the waterways.  Marines and Army personnel will be both visible (show of force) as well as invisible.

Reports estimate the cost for all of this protection at $150 million (which may be a conservative figure).  The cost of the inauguration has turned into a political football between the Republicans and Democrats.  What both sides are unwilling to admit is this; as the first African American to become President of the United States nothing can be take for granted.  None of the hundreds of agencies involved in protecting the President wants to be the one that let President-elect Obama to be hurt or killed.  The inauguration may be the first event of his administration but the watch will continue for the next four or eight years.  A successful attack against a President hasn't happened since President Reagan was shot.  Such a record is a testament to the hard work being performed every day by the men and women assigned to protect the President.  Now more than ever, they can't take any threat for granted.  

Terrorist groups, racist groups, anti-American groups, and those with mental disorders all have reasons to target the next President.  Times are especially bad with a failing economy and more people losing jobs everyday.  People are uncertain about the future and may resort to violence as a way of expressing their fear and anger.  Rather than complain about how much the security for the inauguration costs, we should all hope and pray for the safety of President Obama and his family.  It is in all of our interests as Americans that nothing happens to the next President.

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