Reports have surfaced all over the internet claiming that the Pentagon has ordered the U.S. Air Force to place its nuclear capable B-52 bombers on a 24-hour alert status, indicating to some of the more conspiracy-minded social media pontificators that World War III is on the verge of commencing.  The truth, of course, is a bit murkier than that.

The idea seemed to emerge earlier this week, when Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein seemed to indicate that preparations were being made to ensure the airborne leg of America’s nuclear triad would be ready if called upon to transition into an alert status, though he did specify at the time that no such order had been given.  Apparently, that’s all it takes to get the tin foil hats crinkling, and before you knew it, social media platforms like Twitter were ablaze with the idea that we were preparing for nuclear war.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek clarified that there are no pending plans to place our nuclear bombers on 24-hour alert, though there are some preparations underway that could ultimately support such a decision.

Preparations like updating base infrastructure, conducting exercises, and modernizing equipment are necessary to maintain a baseline level of readiness,” she said. “We do this routinely as part of our organize, train and equip mission so our forces are ready to respond when called upon.”