Inside Obama’s West Wing

The Washington Post updated its West Wing information pages, now called “Inside Obama’s West Wing” recently and made them more fancy and interactive (altho not much more accurate in the floor plan, it seems). Now there is a bit of animation and some pop-up pictures of the residents of each office. Kind of cool.

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34 thoughts on “Inside Obama’s West Wing

  1. Colton, as always thank you once again for keeping tabs on the flick stream with new photos, keep it up! Photography is a passion of mine and I love the photo of the motorcade behind the limo where the photo was taken. Saw some parts of AF1 that were interesting. Looking at the howsutffworks.com floor plan of AF1, all I can think of is those photos of Obama speaking with chief of staff and and david axelrod is in senior staff section but the floor plan from howstuffworks almost doesnt match the photo, unless its in the portion where it says office staff. The photo of obama talking with Jon Favreau (speechwriting director), that looks to be in the guest section of AF1.

  2. Just looking at some stuff on the WHM site…about the Palm room…the pic that shows President Obama and a staff member…first off the year should be 2009..and the photo isn’t looking north….its either west or east.

  3. The picture of Obama speaking with Axelrod in the plane looks like a much smaller, more narrow plane. Could that be a ‘different’ AF1?

  4. WHM Fan, that plane is a smaller version of the 757 the world is accustomed to. It was; however, the plane that picked up Obama from Chicago when he was president-elect.

  5. Tony, what plane are they on then if its not the usual plane known as AF1? Is it like ones used for the First Lady or Vice President when they make a trip?

  6. You’re absolutely right. It is also the plane used by Sec. Clinton. When POTUS or FLOTUS is on board the presidential seal is used. When VPOTUS is on board, his seal is used, and when the SoS travels the State Department Seal is used.

  7. Those 757s are C-32s in the Air Force. I remember, back in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Secret Service did not want the President to fly in any plane with less than four engines. Even the little presidential Lockheed JetStars of the 1970s were the slightly bigger ones with four engines. I think the USSS still prefers that he use four-engine planes, but I guess they have loosened up a bit, since there are few if any four-engine varieties around these days.

    I flew in a C-32 recently, and those two monster engines have incredible thrust.

  8. Why is it that the President is flying on those planes and not the usual plane known as AF1?

  9. It may be due to travel distance. Whenever the President flies overseas, I think two other planes of the presidential fleet flies with him for emergency and technical purposes. The standard plane we know as AF1 is used for long range travel and communication purposes (b/c it is the White House in air)and the smaller planes that accompany the President are used for shorter travel when the communication technology may not be needed. Souza’s pic description says that the President was on his way to Caen, France. I know for sure that he departed from Paris. The total trip is about a 30 minute flight or less.

  10. One more thing that I mistakenly left out. Waht plane the President decides to take also depends on the runway size of the airports. Along with travel distance, the departing and destination airports may not be large enough to accomodate the massive size of the standard AF1.

    Edit: The standard AF1 is the 747 (VC-25)
    The accompanying planes are the 757 (C-32)
    The Presidential 12 passenger Gulf Stream 550 (C-37B)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:C-37B_(Gulf_Stream_550).jpg (POTUS and FLOTUS flown this to their NY datenight)

  11. I know that the 747 (VC-25) jets (the standard ones known as AF1) both of them fly on every overseas trip, I heard that on a documentry. Tony, do you know just how many of the planes there are for the 757 (C-32), along with how many planes for the Presidential 12 passenger Gulf Stream 550 (C-37B)? Also do you know how many helicopters there are that are considered Marine One? I still want to know how many motorcade units there are for POTUS, FLOTUS, and VPOTUS. I know the SS had 4 detail units for President Clinton.

  12. I forgot to ask on the last post, are these planes all customed and layed out with the same floor plan? Any way to find a floor plan for these?

  13. This is a little bit off-topic, but since we are discussing airplanes, and since the President flew in one of them to Green Bay today for a town hall, I noticed two peculiarities about the security on this trip. First, he drove to Andrews in an unmarked (no seal on the doors) armoured Suburban. See http://cryptome.info/obama-protect10/pict107.jpg as he road past the Holocaust Museum. He probably did not take a chopper because of early morning fog. But why the unmarked vehicle, and why the Suburban instead of “The Beast”? It certainly was not an off-the-record trip, since he was going to his airplane.

    Second, his inner ring of security at the high school auditorium in Green Bay appeared to be unusually tight. See
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/images/healthcare_greenbay_blog_CK-0214.JPG Those three rings (usually there is only one ring) of blue curtains cover bulletproof metal plates, and the USSS agents are a lot closer to him than usual. There must have been a viable threat made in Green Bay that the USSS was preparing for. In a case like this, if something happens, his instructions are simply to drop to the floor and stay down. Then, one of the agents would lie on top of him.

  14. I agree with Tony about the choice of planes. Runway length, and other conditions like mountainous approaches, always are factors in deciding which plane to use as AF1. For the President’s recent off-the-record date trip to NYC, when a Gulfstream was used as AF1, that choice probably was due in part to a measure of guilt.

    That Gulfstream usually flies along on all Presidential trips. When it does, it usually lands at a separate nearby airport from where AF1 lands, and it serves as an emergency plane for the President if an aircraft problem arises.

    But I remember that President Kennedy occasionally took a chopper all the way from the White House to NYC. Three of them would fly together. Presidential protection security was a lot more lax back in the early 1960s.

  15. I know firsthand that there are four 757’s (C-32), and two Gulf Stream’s (C-37B). Two of the 757’s are the standard plane, while the other two are the winglet upgrade. I do not have a layout of both types of planes but what I can tell you is all four C-32’s have the same floor plan and the two C-37B’s are also the same. My girlfriend’s cousin is stationed at Andrews Air Force Base here in MD and he told me a while ago that it’s rare to find a layout of these planes online because they aren’t as popular as AF1. I don’t know how many Marine One helicopters are in the presidential fleet but I do know that 25 new Marine One helicopters were in talks to be built until funding was scrapped in April. Maybe that is a hint of how many may be in operation today. Remember there are two types of the helicopter, the VH-3D and VH-60N. I’m sure there is a significant amount of both models. Lastly, I have no info on SS detail. I have the feeling it has changed since 9-11

  16. Good catch about security, Rod. The SS loves to keep everyone guessing when it comes down to their operations. The whole situation seems a bit odd. I did hear that there were over 100 protestors outside of the high school Obama visited with signs saying “No health care” and “no socialism” and other stuff like that. Maybe the Holocaust Museum shooting caused the SS to up the ante on this trip. The FBI director did make an appearance at the White House today. I wonder if the two were connected.

  17. The threat leval for the secret service, can change at a moments notice. There may have been threats related to that day or trip. May I also remind you that no plane is Air Force One, unless POTUS is onboard. When POTUS went to Australia he brought 200 Staff and 250 Secret Service Agents. The SS agents came on C-17’s but the other staff came on the Back up 28000, the back up Air Force One. The other staff may use he Gulfstream. Marine One also went to Australia. The point that I am trying to make is that staff may use the other planes.

  18. For those interested in current pix of little nooks and corners, here is a photo taken yesterday in the office of the national security advisor, of the President with the president of Estonia. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3049/3632858326_06f4e1c3af.jpg?v=0

    Usually, the only reason that a foreign head of state is not given an Oval Office photo-op, and instead the President does a drop-by at this other office, is if the US does not want to offend some other foreign government by permitting the visiting head of state to be photographed in the Oval.

  19. Hi, Sorry to not properly post this question in the right blog posting…
    I noticed that the President has been photographed frequently in his SUV. There’s a difference between the Presidential SUV and the Candidate SUV in terms of its “beefiness.” But with the size and protection that the Beast provides and in today’s threatening climate I’m wondering why the President drives around in the SUV. Especially recently with his children on a trip for ice cream. I’d think the Secret Service would err on the side of caution even for “OTR” off the record trips for ice cream.
    Did President Bush travel in an SUV as much as I believe President Obama has? Don’t the doors look surprisingly thin compared to the new and old limos doors?

  20. Bush did travel around in an SUV from time to time…because of all the motorcades in Washington, a blacked out SUV is a common sight while the Beast is a target.

  21. The SS has about 50 tan or black armored suburbans that they used during the campaigns. These suburbans are not the same suburbans you see Obama in. The suburbans from the campaigns are not as beefy as the ones Obama uses now that he is president. The less beefy, campaign suburbans are now used by cabinet-level people and former presidents and other SS uses. When you see Obama in a suburban, he is just as safe as when in the limo. Bush would drive in a single suburban when he wanted not to be seen by the press. For example when he secretly flew to Iraq, he didn’t take his motorcade as to not tip off the bad guys in Iraq.

  22. Right, Colton. It is very hard to attack a presidential motorcade of SUV’s because it is difficult to tell which one the president is in. There are occasions when the seal and standards are used on the vehicle. Notice the back seat in the presidential surburban is pushed far back out of the immediate view of bystanders on the street. http://cryptome.info/obama-protect10/pict107.jpg

  23. True. The SS won’t use flags and decals for OTR (off the record) trips. OTR trips are when, for example, the president goes and gets burgers. See “Inside the Obama WH.”

    I have to disagree on the point that it’s hard to tell what vehicle the president is in. SS motorcades are the same order, always. The president is always in the second limo or armored SUV. This position makes him closer to his SS detail in the suburban behind him and closer to the CAT car 4 cars behind him.

  24. I agree about the ease in identifying which SUV is the President’s. In the Cryptome picture you can pretty easily see him.

    Where do all of these vehicles get stored. Cryptome.org notes the location of the Marine One and the Air Force 1 fleets. The floor plans here on whitehousemuseum.org don’t show a garage. Is it possible the vehicles are stored in the new structure outside the West Wing? There would need to be a lot of room because I’m sure there are two or three “beasts” plus all the accompanying limos for staff and other VIPs as well as the SS vehicles.

  25. At any time of the day there are a few black suburbans and SUVs parked outside the south portico of the WH. These are there just in case they need to get the president out of the WH in an emergency or just for use by the ERT on the grounds. The majority of the presidential/SS vehicles are stored in the SS headquarters underground parking lot, which is near the DC convention center. There is also an additional parking garage even closer to the WH that is used by the presidential detail of the SS. I would assume how and where vehicles are stored depends on the schedule and needs of each day.

  26. The vehicles are not stored on site at the white house, but are a few blocks away at the White House garage which is run by the military. The white building has nothing to do with vehicle storage. There are not three limos, but scores of them for POTUS, VPOTUS, etc. all of them not to the Beast level though.

  27. Thanks everyone for the responses. I’ve enjoyed the conversations and encourage everyone to use this forum for more discussions.

  28. WH is correct, they are kept at The WH Garage or at the SS Hq not to far away from the white house.
    Secondly, when the SUV is used it may be because the limo is on its way to another state for a up coming event.
    And last, The SUVs near the south portico is not a escape route, it may be for the first lady or a visitor. I do know that there is ussualy a 4wd in one of the two courts near the basement of the WH. There have been a few picures and some talk about it.
    By the way on my trip to DC I saw the white structure, and its twin on the other side. (There is one on the other side). All I am going to tell you about it is that limos arnt kept in there,it may be the SS Emergency Truck as seen in Crypotme.

    James

  29. The green structure opposite the white structure is the building of the visitors entrance for the East Wing of the White House where guests typically enter the White House if they are visiting the residence. No vehicles are stored in those structures as they are currently construction zones. Also, there are multiple limos because they can have them in place at multiple locations, especially when they are doing multiple trips with staggered deployments.

  30. Rod, according to ABC News, that “Inside the White House” feature is one of a series of behind the scenes video of life at the White House. I really like how accessible the administration is being.

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