The black leather briefcase is dubbed the Football
Officially known as the "President's emergency satchel" the so-called nuclear Football – portable and hand-carried – is always within reach of the commander-in-chief, just in case.
Contrary to popular belief, the Football does not actually contain a movie-style big red button for launching a nuclear war.
But it does contain top-secret items capable of allowing the US President to authorise a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centres, such as the Situation Room in the White House.
It is known to contain a handbook detailing options for unleashing US nuclear weapons with "everything from firing a tactical nuclear weapon, one of them, to full-born Armageddon".
he bag contains top-secret items capable of allowing the US President to authorise a nuclear attack
I opened it up constantly just to refresh myself, to always be aware of what was in it, all the potential decisions the president could possibly make
Air Force Major Robert Patterson
The Football allows the President to communicate with the National Military Command Centre in the Pentagon, which monitors worldwide nuclear threats.
The five military aides trusted to guard the Football are trained to administer the president for a nuclear attack in just minutes.
Air Force Major Robert Patterson, who toted the Football for President Clinton, said: "You’re always kind of on edge.
“I opened it up constantly just to refresh myself, to always be aware of what was in it, all the potential decisions the president could possibly make."
Some aides are thought to have chased Clinton while he jogged around the White House – all while carrying the lethal luggage.
The nickname Football comes from "Dropkick", a code name given to a secret nuclear-war plan. The Football can always be found in the same aeroplane, helicopter, car and elevator alongside the US president.
The Football allows the President to communicate with the National Military Command Centre
And when the president is at home, it is locked away in a secure location in the White House.
The small black bag first appeared, without public announcement, during the Kennedy administration in the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis. The Government saw a need for the president to have nuclear decision-making tools at the ready, even when away from the White House.
ome aides are thought to have chased Clinton while he jogged around the White House