Alan Maninblack settles back in his chair in the Secret Service's Washington, D.C., field office at 7:30AM. He's just received orders to travel to Chattanooga, TN, to support that city's team for a surprise presidential visit. The White House protection detail has just passed on the logistics information over the agency's secure telephone network.
There's not much time, reflects Alan as he looks at the preparation schedule. This must be one of those photo ops the White House keeps dreaming up.
With the meeting over, Alan pushes his chair back from the conference table and returns to his desk to schedule a flight. He doesn't have time to drive to Chattanooga, since the president will be there in twelve hours and he needs all the minutes he can grab.
He dashes home and throws some clothes and toiletries into a bag and heads for the airport. Good thing Washington's got some direct flights to Chattanooga; at least he won't have to sit in some crazy place like Philadelphia or New York, waiting for a connection to an airport just a couple of hundred miles away.
Mercifully, the flight goes smoothly, and Alan's at the Chattanooga field office at 11:30AM. He grabs a bite in the cafeteria (no meal on such a short flight) and then sits down with two Chattanooga team members to plan the day's strategy. They've got to scope out the president's speaking venue, somewhere inside the Chattanooga Aquarium. He's going to get on the soapbox about science education.
Science is great and all, but Alan's more concerned about the safety of the person praising it. Plus, he was always more of a history guy anyway.
The Aquarium is located smack in the middle of the city, with lots of streets radiating out through the commercial district and into the neighborhoods. The Aquarium is also situated fairly far away from the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport. "This assignment won't be easy, especially on this tight time schedule," thinks Alan as he shakes his head. But that's why they gave it to the Secret Service.
At 1:00PM, Alan's team meets at the Aquarium before fanning out across the city, each with their own set of tasks to complete in the next four hours. Although Alan's got a handheld GPS to help him figure out where to go, that's certainly no substitute for local knowledge or street smarts. That's why the local team members have taken on the task of finalizing the president's travel route.
Thankfully no turf war breaks out; these are professionals, not beat cops in movies from the 1980s.
Alan's job is to find and neutralize all the potential locations in which a terrorist could hide a small bomb. He checks mailboxes, manhole covers, bank night deposit boxes, and newspaper vending boxes. Even soda vending machines and hot dog carts have to pass Alan's sniff test as he walks along the motorcade route. Unsurprisingly, that task takes Alan the rest of the afternoon.
Alan meets with the Chattanooga team again over dinner at 5:00PM for one last briefing. For security reasons, they can't discuss these Top Secret plans at a restaurant table. They've picked up a nice Italian meal—including some hot garlicky bread—to enjoy in the field office. Usually garlic is a bad choice in such close quarters, but if they're all eating the bread, at least everyone suffers equally.
The president's trip rapidly comes together. The Chattanooga team has mapped the travel route, including two alternate routes should there be a security problem while underway. Finally, the call comes in at 5:40PM; Air Force One is going to be landing in twenty minutes.
The motorcade route goes off without a hitch. People honk and wave as the president's limo drives past. Once arriving at the Aquarium, the Chattanooga team assumes a supporting role in the production, turning over primary responsibility to the president's protective detail. Not Alan; he's part of that inner circle. Even while the commander-in-chief is detailing the science investments being laid out, Alan keeps his eyes and ears focused on the crowd.
At 9:30PM, The president's Secret Service team finally drives his motorcade back to the waiting airplane. Everything the team put together, from the crowd control plan to the single security checkpoint, was planned and executed perfectly. Upon exiting the limo, the president walks up to Alan and shakes his hand. "Thanks again," says the president, before boarding Air Force One.
As Alan drives to his hotel for the evening, he basks in the glory of the day. Once again, the president has returned home safe and unharmed. America thanks you Alan.