It would be quite difficult to get a major paramilitary force close to the White House since its in quite a built up area. And many tourists (like myself) end up at another similar looking building nearby (Treasury Dept? Old State building?)
The Uniformed Division of the Secret Service is responsible for White House Security, and they have an Emergency Response Team the ERT: “ERT’s primary mission is to provide tactical response to unlawful intrusions and other protective challenges related to the White House and its grounds. ERT personnel receive specialized, advanced training and must maintain a high level of physical and operational proficiency.”
Sounds like they would be the first responders and then they would call on the Counter Assault Team:
If more bodies are needed they would probably call in the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. The HRT is an overall counter terrorism and SWAT team and not just about hostages. And they are based close by in Quantico. It just depends on how big the situation is. Any locals or the myriad of other police forces in D.C. would probably be used for perimeter security.
I’m guessing that if the POTUS becomes a hostage like in the movies the 25th Amendment is in effect automatically, in such a situation where would they take the Veep, now Acting President? The nearest bunker, Air Force One?
Keep in mind that the WH was sprayed with bullets a few years ago, and the Secret Service didn’t even realize. And more recently, one lone nut made it into the building because alarms were off and agents weren’t at their posts. He might have reached the residence but for being tackled by an off-duty agent who just happened to be on site. I imagine that security has been tightened since then, but it’s not nearly as overwhelming as one might think.
Bad tactics for AQ. That would be the day the SS were on the *highest *alert. Nothing like a scare & burst of adrenaline to wake everybody up. Fast forward a few months or years, to say, today, and things may have settled down to the same dull & semi-lax routine.
Well during 9/11, Bush was taken to Air Force One and kept in the air (surrounded by fighter escorts) until they knew there was no more hijacked planes to slam into buildings.
Air Force One can be kept in the air indefinitely with air to air refuelling and rotating pilots, or they could take the VEEP to an easily defensible army base such as maybe Cheyenne Mountain, if they thought there was still large hostile armed groups out there somewhere. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheyenne_Mountain_nuclear_bunker
The Marine Barracks, Washington site was specifically selected as an easy march from the White House, and one of the missions of the Marine Barracks, Companies A and B is “provides contingency forces in support of the White House Emergency Plan.” Any organized attack on the White House would certainly have their not so subtle response. Yeah, the dress nice and march pretty, but they also train hard for dirty work.
It’s not automatic; the VP must still assemble the Cabinet and get them to vote to invoke it, but in practice that would happen very quickly (via teleconference) & in the interim I don’t he’d have much trouble getting his orders followed.
Air Force Once cannot be kept in the air “indefinitely”. There’s more to keeping a plane airworthy that refuelling, and eventually the plan is going to have to land for maintenance.
I suspect the visible part of the White house is vulnerable to attack and serves mainly as a “time-buffer” to get people below. Breaching the subterranean part of it is going to be a different matter which probably resembles something more on the order of Cheyenne Mountain.