This past Monday, hours before America welcomed the new year, the U.S. military command in charge of the country’s nuclear arsenal published a tweet that had people anxiously looking skyward. U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) boasted that it’s prepared to “drop something much, much bigger” than the Times Square ball traditionally dropped in New York City as part of the New Year celebrations.
The tweet and the accompanying video were quickly deleted by STRATCOM, but it was too late, and the damage was done. Consequently, STRATCOM issued an apology via Twitter. “Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste and does not reflect our values. We apologize. We are dedicated to the security of America & allies,” read the tweet.
The deleted video showed a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber releasing a payload of ordnance. Meanwhile, the words “STEALTH, READY, LETHAL” flashed on the screen as the bombs exploded on the ground.
Meghan M. Liemburg-Archer, a representative from the command, said, “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.”
“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,” said another U.S. Strategic Command representative to The Washington Post. “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,” he added.
Alongside other tags, STRATCOM tagged the Air Force Global Strike Command, which is the unit responsible for America’s nuclear and conventional strategic bombers.
STRATCOM is one of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) 10 unified commands. Its main responsibilities include providing strategic deterrence; strategic warning; integrated missile defense; and global command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR). STRATCOM is also responsible for operating the military’s Global Information Grid (GIG).
Earlier in 2018, STRATCOM was put in charge of America’s nuclear command, control, and communications by the outgoing Defense Secretary James Mattis. This means that STRATCOM is responsible for the classified communications networks that the incumbent president would use to stay in command of the U.S. military in the event of a nuclear war. The communications system is comprised of a mixture of satellites, radar, and ground command and control stations.