WHILE on any trip, President Trump has at his side at all times one of five rotating military aides who carry the nuclear “football” – equipped with communication tools and a book with prepared war plans.
Should the US come under nuclear attack, the president will have to decide whether or not to launch a retaliatory strike, and this is where the football comes into play.
In the event of such a devastating incident, Trump and his aides will review plans kept inside the briefcase, which is officially called the ‘president’s emergency satchel’.
Trump’s has been known to follow him on a golf buggy when he’s out for a round, but mostly it is kept in the trust of the military aide.
Expert Garrett M. Graff says: “There’s a visual guide as part of the Football that one military aide referred to as the “Denny’s Menu” of nuclear war. But other aides have darkly joked there are really just three options: Rare, Medium and Well-Done.”
A signal would then be sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff to initiate the process. The President has final authority on any launch, but in theory military commanders could oppose it if it was illegal under international law. The president could, however, just remove them from their posts and carry on.
Proceeding with the launch, the president would then get out the “biscuit”, which is a plastic card with authentication codes that is kept on their person at all times.
This is except for Bill Clinton, who mislaid his for several months during the year 2000, and Ronald Reagan, who was briefly separated from it when he was rushed into hospital after an assassination attempt in 1981.
To initiate a nuclear strike, the president has to relay the classified codewords to military officials to prove that they are indeed the real president.
The president’s order would then be verified, but never opposed, by the Secretary of Defence as a final sign that it is a legitimate order.
Within minutes of the call being made, missiles would be airborne and heading for their intended target.