ELMAU, Germany – World leaders including President Barack Obama will be guarded by 17,000 police officers when they arrive high in the southern German Alps for two days of meetings at the G-7 summit this weekend.
Located at more than 3,000 feet above sea level, Castle Elmau has created special challenges for organizers of this year’s global conference, which begins on Sunday.
The luxury hotel is surrounded by lush green fields, dense forests and Alpine mountains and has only with only one paved road leading up to it.
Major highways are shut down and temporary border posts have been set up on at least one mountain trail in Bavaria’s largest ever police operation.
"We have prepared for all possible scenarios"
Police spokesman Peter Reichl said that the limited infrastructure made the location challenging for security officials.
“It makes it substantially more difficult,” he told NBC News. “Of course we have a tactical advantage that Castle Elmau is difficult to reach, but we also have big logistical problems.”
Reichl said the movement of security workers — many of whom have to be accommodated miles away in Munich or across the Austrian border — would take a long time, not only because of the many control posts along the way but also because of the lack of paved roads in the immediate area.
“We have mostly dirt roads, which are very difficult and steep,” he said.
Some police officers are deployed on foot patrolling the forests around the summit site.
Karl Schulz, a mountain specialist with the Bavarian police, said the force was prepared for protesters trying to get close to the castle, but did not expect a big turnout.
“I think that the area will stay relatively calm, because the goal of the opposition is to be seen, and the places where we go, you won’t be seen,” he said.
Schulz said his team was also preparing to rescue any summit visitors who might get lost on the trails.
A major demonstration in Munich on Thursday drew about 40,000 people, organizers said.
Critics have said that scale of the security operation at Castle Elmau is overblown. But officials insist that they have to be ready for all eventualities after some a protest in March against the opening of the new European Central Bank building in Frankfurt turned violent, with police cars set on fire.
“We have prepared for all possible scenarios, we also think that violence-prone protesters will travel to the area,” Reichl said.
The General Abrams Complex, a former U.S. Army facility, will be used as a detention and processing facility for any arrested protesters.