For Newsweek, Jon Jackson with Sean Spoonts at SOFREP

Everywhere President Joe Biden goes, he is accompanied by a nondescript briefcase. Though it looks harmless, the black briefcase contains within it the power to destroy civilization as we know it. The leather container is better known as the “nuclear football,” and Russian President Vladimir Putin has his own version of the briefcase.

Carried by one of six rotating aides, the American nuclear football—officially named the Presidential Emergency Satchel—functions as a mobile strategic defense hub should the president need to authorize a nuclear strike while away from command centers at the White House. The nickname “nuclear football” reportedly came from an early plan for launching a war called “Operation Dropkick,” and every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has traveled with the briefcase in tow.

Despite popular belief, there is no button inside the U.S. nuclear football to launch nukes. According to former White House Military Office Director Bill Gulley’s 1980 book Breaking Cover, the briefcase contains authentication codes, a list of secure bunkers for the president, and instructions for using the Emergency Broadcast System.