The arm of the U.S. military responsible for America’s nuclear strike capabilities apologized for a Twitter message saying it was prepared to drop something “much, much bigger” than the New Year’s Eve ball in New York after the tweet sparked outcry.
In the tweet, which was posted as revelers around the country were preparing to usher in 2019 and was deleted three hours later, the United States Strategic Command said the nation was “ready to drop something much, much bigger” than the famous New Year’s Eve ball, and showed a clip of an aircraft releasing bombs.
The attached video showed a B-2 stealth bomber streaking through the sky before dropping two bombs, according to the New York Times. The footage was accompanied by driving music and the words “STEALTH,” “READY” and “LETHAL” flashed across the screen.
The tweet moved some to voice their outrage.
“I did not believe this could be real,” said Joe Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late.”
“It is an industry ad doubling as a sick, bragging joke by our Strategic Command,” Cirincione added. “Disgraceful.”
At first, I did not believe this could be real. But it is. It is an industry ad doubling as a sick, bragging joke by our Strategic Command. Disgraceful. https://t.co/bmxtT3fWw7
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) December 31, 2018
“I think it’s very tacky,” Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN. “We don’t need to be acting this way.”
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 31, 2018
The offending tweet was subsequently deleted.
The Twitter account of the US Strategic Command then posted an apology, saying the first was in “poor taste.”
Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values. We apologize. We are dedicated to the security of America & allies.
— US Strategic Command (@US_Stratcom) December 31, 2018
A spokesperson for the Strategic Command told NYT the post “was part of our Year in Review series meant to feature our command priorities: strategic deterrence, decisive response and combat-ready force.”
“It was a repost from earlier in the year, dropping a pair of conventional Massive Ordnance Penetrators at a test range in the United States,” the spokesperson added.
Stratcom is one of 10 unified commands in the Department of Defense that provides a range of capabilities including strategic warning, missile defense, global command and communications, as well as intelligence and reconnaissance.
Some Twitter users defended the tweet.
I can't stop laughing. @US_Stratcom, a command responsible for blowing stuff, tweeted something about blowing stuff up and people got the vapors
They got weak kneed and deleted the tweet, which is too bad. It was worth it for the replies alone.
— John Noonan (@noonanjo) December 31, 2018
“Never apologize for being ready to defend us,” posted Twitter user Doug Gray.
Never apologize for being ready to defend us.
— Doug Gray (@dlg7170) January 1, 2019
“I am glad you reminded the world of the important work you do,” replied Twitter user Bill Meyer. “The tweet is not a representation of hate but the best reminder of the protection you give to the globe! You keep us safe and no one who is hating on this tweet actually believes you want nuclear war.”
I am glad you reminded the world of the important work you do. The tweet is not a representation of hate but the best reminder of the protection you give to the globe! You keep us safe and no one who is hating on this tweet actually believes you want nuclear war. Thank you!
— Bill Meyer (@Wjm56081) January 1, 2019
This isn’t the first time a government Twitter feed has backpedaled on an ill-received tweet.
In May of last year, the Air Force apologized and deleted a Twitter post that tried to link fighting against the Taliban to an online debate.
The tweet was not well received by some social media users, with critics saying its lighthearted tone was not appropriate in the context of a serious battle in the nearly 17-year-long war in Afghanistan.