Donald Trump's 'nuclear football'- the world's most powerful briefcase

3 December 2019, 04:56

A White House military aide carries the nuclear "football"
A White House military aide carries the nuclear "football". Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Wherever the US President goes a military aide is only ever a few feet away, carrying a briefcase with the ability to launch the US nuclear arsenal.

The American nuclear “football,” officially known as the Presidential Emergency Satchel, first came into use in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's understood President John F. Kennedy was worried about the security surrounding the launching of a nuclear weapon.

US security officials created a briefcase that would give the president the means to quickly receive information and authorise a nuclear strike.

The football is now the only constant companion in the life of an American President, everywhere Donald Trump goes he's also accompanied by: The Beast, Air Force One and a 'Ring of Steel'.

The briefcase is never far from the US President.
The briefcase is never far from the US President. Picture: Smithsonian Institute

The Football does not actually contain a button for launching a nuclear war. Instead it contains a series of codebooks with commands which can be communicated to the Pentagon.

It is understood the Football also provides the President with a simple menu or pre-planned nuclear strike options, for example allowing him to select a country or city to target.

When a President is sworn into office they are presented with a plastic card which contains the nuclear codes, the card is referred to as "the biscuit," and a nuclear strike cannot be launched without it.

A US Marine Corps officer carries the football
A US Marine Corps officer carries the football. Picture: PA

During President Donald Trump’s visit to China in 2017, Chinese officials tried to stop the military aide carrying the football from entering the auditorium in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, although the situation was quickly resolved.

The Football is always carried by a uniformed, and armed, military officer shackled to their wrist.

Each of the five branches of the US Uniformed Services supply a mid-ranking commissioned officer to carry the most powerful briefcase in the world.

A second Football is kept close to the Vice President, while a backup resides at the White House.

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