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Donald Trump to carry his 'Nuclear Football' to India. What is a Nuclear Football?

President of the United States of America, Donald Trump is all set to embark on a 2-day visit to India starting February 24. Trump will bring with him, along with other things, the all-important 'Nuclear Football' that every US President carries with him everywhere. The Nuclear Football, which is basically a briefcase is one of the single most important things that Donald Trump will bring with him to India.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: February 23, 2020 9:30 IST
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Donald Trump to carry his 'Nuclear Football' to India. What is a Nuclear Football?

President of the United States of America, Donald Trump is all set to embark on a 2-day visit to India starting February 24. Trump will bring with him, along with other things, the all-important 'Nuclear Football' that every US President carries with him everywhere. The Nuclear Football, which is basically a briefcase is one of the single most important things that Donald Trump will bring with him to India. 

The Nuclear Football is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centres, such as the White House Situation Room. It functions as a mobile hub in the strategic defence system of the United States. It is held by an aide-de-camp. Aide-de-camp is a person who walks by the side of the president like a personal assistant and takes care of the Nuclear Football.

The football is a metal Zero Halliburton briefcase carried in a black leather "jacket". The package weighs around 20 kilograms.

Bill Gulley, the former director of the White House Military Office, in his book wrote about the contents of the box.

There are four things in the Football. The Black Book containing the retaliatory options, a book listing classified site locations, a manila folder with eight or ten pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Alert System, and a three-by-five-inch [7.5 × 13 cm] card with authentication codes. The Black Book was about 9 by 12 inches [23 × 30 cm] and had 75 loose-leaf pages printed in black and red. The book with classified site locations was about the same size as the Black Book, and was black. It contained information on sites around the country where the president could be taken in an emergency.

A small antenna protrudes from the bag near the handle, suggesting that it also contains communications equipment of some kind.

The football dates back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, but its current usage came about in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when John F. Kennedy was concerned that a Soviet commander in Cuba might launch missiles without authorization from Moscow. Kennedy asked several questions related to the release of US nuclear weapons. These were:

  1. "Assuming that information from a closely guarded source causes me to conclude that the U.S. should launch an immediate nuclear strike against the Communist Bloc, does the JCS Emergency Actions File permit me to initiate such an attack without first consulting with the Secretary of Defense and/or the Joint Chiefs of Staff?"
  2. "I know that the red button on my desk phone will connect me with the White House Army Signal Agency (WHASA) switchboard and that the WHASA switchboard can connect me immediately to the Joint War Room. If I called the Joint War Room without giving them advance notice, to whom would I be speaking?"
  3. "What would I say to the Joint War Room to launch an immediate nuclear strike?"
  4. "How would the person who received my instructions verify them?"

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