U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom), the military command in charge of the nation’s global strike and nuclear capabilities, and deterring other countries from using them, caused an online uproar on Monday after tweeting a video of a stealth bomber dropping conventional bombs on a testing range.
The tweet also included the hashtags, “#Deterrence #Assurance #CombatReadyForce #PeaceIsOurProfession.”
Military combatant commands and services typically create these videos of their forces training as tools to inform the public of what they do. The video was actually released earlier this year, in October, and is available on DVIDS, the military repository for all military-created videos, photos, and other public materials.
However, it seemed that people were shocked at the sight of seeing how Strategic Command trains for its all-too-serious mission defending the nation, and the suggestion that “if ever needed” it would be ready.
A former Obama national security official-turned-CNN analyst asked how the intelligence community assesses the U.S.’s “enemies will react to escalatory videos.”
Wondering 1) how the intel community assesses our enemies will react to escalatory videos 2) if this was approved before or after Russia tested their hypersonic missile and 3) why we are ok releasing readiness videos but not conducting joint military exercises with RoK https://t.co/C3iR77F34V
— Sam Vinograd (@sam_vinograd) December 31, 2018
After becoming the target of a Twitter mob, the combatant command deleted its video and posted an apology:
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
The spokesman for U.S. Strategic Command, Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, explained in a statement:
This post, which has since been deleted, 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 (MOP) at a test range in the United States. We admittedly erred in connecting it to New Year’s Eve festivities, and we apologize. We remain dedicated to the security of America and our allies.
However, not all felt the tweet was in bad taste.
John Noonan, staffer for Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), pointed out that the command responsible for “blowing stuff [up]” tweeted something about doing it and “people got the vapors.”
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
Defense journalist Joseph Trevithick pointed out that similar things have been tweeted out in the past from military accounts, to little uproar:
I find it odd that STRATCOM is getting dragged for a pretty innocuous Tweet while everyone had a pretty hearty laugh over components of AFGSC having a much more protracted Twitter escapade – including a joke about nuclear war – last year. https://t.co/AWFDHvWYMe
— Joseph Trevithick (@FranticGoat) January 1, 2019
Professor Tom Nichols pointed out the mundane intention behind the tweet, saying, “They’re on duty and ready to execute their mission”:
I didn’t think there was anything that terrible about that @US_Stratcom tweet. I took it in the way I think they intended it: that they’re on duty and ready to execute their mission. A bit of Strangelovian humor, maybe. https://t.co/Dq6t9auYl1
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) December 31, 2018
The “People for Bernie” account applauded Stratcom deleting its tweet, and said, “Now, we keep fighting to delete the entire military industrial complex”:
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) December 31, 2018
Several hours, later, the People for Bernie account returned to its normal tweets and retweets calling for revolution:
— Amanda ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ (@AmandaShouting) January 1, 2019