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Obama's scratch safari - but presidential African trip will still cost $60 to $100 million

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

President Obama, along with first lady Michelle and their two daughters have decided to cancel a safari in Tanzania for their trip to Africa later this month. Regardless, the presidential trip to Africa will cost $60 to $100 million. Massive amounts of security are expected to tail the president, in both the sky and land during the trip.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The president and first lady had also planned to take a Tanzanian safari as part of the trip," reads the Washington Post. However this would have required "the president's special counter-assault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat," according to the planning document.

Security for the trip will be extraordinarily tight. Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. In addition, a Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in the event of an emergency.

"Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts giving 24-hour coverage over the president's airspace so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close," according to the Post.

Information in regards to the trip was obtained by a confidential internal planning document. "While the preparations appear to be in line with similar travels in the past, the document offers an unusual glimpse into the colossal efforts to protect the U.S. commander-in-chief on trips abroad."
Any official trip made by the president, such as the one scheduled next week for Northern Ireland and Germany, is an immense and costly logistical challenge. The African trip is highly complicated by a confluence of factors that could make it one of the most expensive of Obama's tenure.

The first family is making back-to-back stops from June 26 to July 3 in three countries where U.S. officials are providing nearly all the resources, rather than depending heavily on local police forces, military authorities or hospitals for assistance.

The planned safari had been canceled in favor of a trip to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner.

"We do not have a limitless supply of assets to support presidential missions, and we prioritized a visit to Robben Island over a two-hour safari in Tanzania," spokesman Josh Earnest said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't do both."


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