The U.S. Strategic Command, responsible for managing the nation’s nuclear arsenal, apologized Monday for tweeting that it was prepared to drop something “much bigger” than the iconic ball that marks the new year in New York.
Hours before the ball drop, the command tweeted: “#TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball…if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger.”
The tweet included video showing a bomber dropping two bombs.
The command’s Twitter account has more than 93,000 followers, and the tweet was deleted after sparking controversy on social media.
“Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values,” the command later tweeted. “We apologize. We are dedicated to the security of America & allies.”
Among the initial tweet’s detractors was Walter Schaub, who led the Office of Government Ethics for more than three years, including six months under President Donald Trump.
“What kind of maniacs are running our country?” Schaub tweeted.
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Schaub also noted that on April 13, a Friday, the command tweeted a picture of the “Friday the 13” film character Jason running through foggy woods with a bomber in pursuit. That command tweet: “Jason’s got nothing on us.”
Schaub tweeted that “Before they threatened to blow up the world, the serious people at US StratCom threatened to blow up Jason. A few members of Congress would do well to reflect on that the next time they feel like talking about tweets encouraging POTUS to divest his corrupting financial interests.”
The tweet did have its supporters online. Abu Reid, who describes himself in his Twitter profile as a 26-year military veteran, was dismissive of the command’s apologetic tweet.
“Screw that… it was funny,” Reid tweeted. “Why does everyone have to get so offended that our military is the biggest and baddest in the world. To the Officers and Airmen of StratCom. Thank you for your service”
But the Twitter handle @MissionChaos had a different take: “because service with honor is what we celebrate, taking no pleasure in death and destruction. We fight and defend the American ideal that power derives from freedom and a willingness to sacrifice for its preservation, not a large capacity for harm. Honor is not a punchline…”
Strategic Command, based in Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.