Military agency apologizes for tweet likening bombs to Times Square ball drop

After deleting the video post, the U.S. Strategic Command said the intended joke was ‘in poor taste.’

US Strategic Command deletes NYE tweet

A military agency’s attempt to grab online attention on New Year’s Eve sent its PR team into a tailspin.

The U.S. Strategic Command has apologized for a joke that, ummm, bombed—immediately stoking backlash on Twitter. The tweet drew an apparent parallel between the Times Square ball dropping to ring in 2019 and the dropping of bombs.

“The command that is responsible for the country’s nuclear and missile arsenal for some reason thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the new year with a tongue-in-cheek tweet about bombs,” Slate reported.

The Washington Post reported:

The embedded video showed footage of a B-2 stealth bomber. As the words “STEALTH,” “READY” and “LETHAL” flashed across the screen, the aircraft released bombs. They fall to the ground and crash with a fiery explosion.

It also tagged the Whiteman Air Force Base and the Air Force Global Strike Command, which is responsible for nuclear and nonnuclear strategic bomber fleets.

NBC News reported:

The unified command, which is part of the Department of Defense and whose slogan is “peace is our profession,” readies and controls the nation’s nuclear arms, among other things. It wasn’t clear if the “something much, much bigger” was a reference to conventional bombs or the country’s nukes, though many interpreted it to be about the latter.

As social media backlash erupted, the tweet was deleted, but screenshots still made the rounds online:

Another Twitter user shared the video:

Though the move earned U.S. Strategic Command kudos from a few supporters, it mostly took flak, as in the following tweets:

After deleting the video, U.S. Strategic Command tweeted a mea culpa:

The agency’s PR team also scrambled to launch damage control.

NPR reported:

A spokesperson told NPR in an email that the video was actually reposted from earlier this year and “was part of our Year in Review series meant to feature our command priorities: strategic deterrence, decisive response and combat-ready force.”

The Washington Post reported:

“We admittedly erred in connecting it to New Year’s Eve festivities, and we apologize,” said Meghan M. Liemburg-Archer, a U.S. Strategic Command spokeswoman. “We remain dedicated to the security of America and our allies.”

The tweet pales in comparison to some of the worst PR missteps of 2018, but it did not help the government agency end the year on a high note. The miscue also underscores the potential perils of newsjacking.

It’s not the first social media flub from the military, either.

NBC News reported:

When an audio clip went viral because some heard “yanny” while others heard “laurel,” the U.S. Air Force tweeted that the Taliban would have preferred to hear either word over gunfire. They later apologized and deleted the tweet.

COMMENT Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from directly in your inbox.