In the article below the readers would get to know about the Nuclear football and how is it used by the President. Get to know the details of the issues with it that Pentagon is dealing with.
The Pentagon has recently said that it would be evaluating the safety protocols surrounding the President’s nuclear football. This contains the codes that may be needed for a strike. This happened after one of the briefcases nearly came in range of the rioters storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the president’s emergency satchel, the Presidential Emergency Satchel, the button, the black box, or just the 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 centers, such as the White House Situation Room or the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. It functions as a mobile hub in the strategic defense system of the United States. It is held by an aide-de-camp and its the most Guarded asset on the earthly kingdom.Its protected more than a USA President.
If the president (who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces) decides to order the use of nuclear weapons, they would be taken aside by the “carrier” and the briefcase would be opened. A command signal, or “watch” alert, would then be issued to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The president would then review the attack options with the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and decide on a plan, which could range from a single cruise missile to multiple ICBM launches. These are preset war plans developed under OPLAN 8010 (formerly the Single Integrated Operational Plan). Then, using Milstar, the aide, a military officer, would contact the National Military Command Center and NORAD to determine the scope of the pre-emptive nuclear strike and prepare a second strike, following which Milstar/Advanced Extremely High Frequency or Boeing E-4Bs and TACAMOs would air the currently valid nuclear launch code to all operational nuclear delivery systems. Where a two-person verification procedure would be executed following this, the codes would be entered in a Permissive Action Link
What is Nuclear Football?
The nuclear football is a briefcase which contains the things to be used by the President of the United States so that he can authorise any nuclear attack while he/she is away from the nuclear command centers.The President of the United States is accompanied by military aid, always carrying a football consisting of launch codes for nuclear weapons.
Steps to launch the Nuclear Weapon in USA:
The President has the whole- sole authority to launch the nuclear weapon. For this he follows the following steps
i) Meeting with the advisors: The President meets the advisors or can conduct it over a phone call. The final word of those who are in the field is also important. Moreover they update him/her about the ground reality
ii)Launch order given: It is to be given by a secure station or a portable nuclear football. The president’s ID is confirmed and the launch codes are sent to the Pentagon’s war room.
iii) The order is out: The War Room at Pentagon has encrypted launch orders that include targets, time to launch and authentication codes to unlock missiles.
iv) Launch Preparation: Launch crew confirms authentication codes and enters target information to unlock the missiles. However the order of the President can be affected by the Defence Secretary’s disagreement and the vice President can pass a motion under Section 4 of Amendment 25 declaring the President incapable of carrying out his/her duties. Only in such cases the nuclear attack can be halted.
v)The nuclear weapon is launched
What happened on January 6, 2021?
It was in the United States Capitol in Washington DC that the Congress men were attacked by a mob supporting the ex President Donald Trump. They wished to overturn his defeat in the presidential elections by disrupting the joint session of the Congress approving the victory of Joe Biden by counting of the Electoral votes.
The Pentagon after that said that it would evaluate the extent to which the Pentagon officials could detect and respond in case the Presidential Emergency Satchel were lost or compromised with. As on that day Vice President Mike Pence was accompanied by the military aide carrying a backup nuclear football, the Pentagon wishes to run such a test.
As the football is required to be near the president at all times, the aides carrying it frequently appear in press photographs.In February 2017, a guest at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort posed for a photo with the military aide carrying the football, posting the image to Facebook and identifying the aide by his first name. The photo was posted while Trump was hosting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, around the same time as news broke that North Korea had fired a nuclear-capable Pukkuksong-2 ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan.U.S. military officials clarified that it was neither illegal nor against proper procedure for the officer to appear in such a photo, although they admitted that the situation was strange.
On November 8, 2017, when President Trump made an official state visit to China, U.S. military aides carrying the football were reportedly involved in a “short scuffle” with Chinese security officials, after the latter tried to bar the former access to the Great Hall of the People auditorium. Political correspondent Jonathan Swan, who reported the incident, wrote “I’m told that at no point did the Chinese have the nuclear football in their possession or even touch the briefcase. I’m also told the head of the Chinese security detail apologised to the Americans afterwards for the misunderstanding.
On January 6, 2021, during the storming of the United States Capitol by rioters, security footage, displayed during the subsequent Trump impeachment trial, showed Vice President Mike Pence along with the aide carrying the backup football being hastily evacuated from the Senate chambers. While the Vice President was sheltering with his team and family, the football was within 100 feet of the approaching rioters. Its capture during the event could have resulted in the loss of sensitive intelligence surrounding pre-planned nuclear strike options. It was later reported that military officials did not know about the danger that the football was in during the riot.
Following President Trump’s failure to secure a second term, he did not attend President Biden’s inauguration, when the football is normally handed over. Instead, Trump’s football remained with him while a second one accompanied Biden. At the 12:00 PM EST transition time, the codes in Trump’s and Pence’s (who did attend the inauguration) football were deactivated, and those in Biden’s and incoming Vice President Kamala Harris’s were activated.
In February of 2021, a group of 31 Congress members signed a letter requesting that President Biden give up sole authority to use the nuclear launch codes. The letter asked Biden “to install checks [and] balances in our nuclear command-and-control structure” and proposed alternatives to the existing command structure.
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