The U.S. military command responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons tweeted a New Year’s Eve message Monday afternoon: It is always ready to “drop something much, much bigger” than Manhattan’s iconic Time Square ball.
The post and accompanying video went live as the country readied to ring in the new year by watching the famous New York City ball descend at midnight.
The U.S. Strategic Command has since deleted and apologized for the tweet.
“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.”
“#TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball … if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger,” the original post read. “Watch to the end! @AFGlobalStrike @Whiteman_AFB #Deterrence #Assurance #CombatReadyForce #PeacelsOurProfession”
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.
The post was deleted within hours and replaced with a subsequent apology from the Strategic Command’s official account.
The New Year’s Eve post drew confusion and criticism on the social media platform.
Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, reposted the now-deleted tweet and asked, “What kind of maniacs are running this country?”
Many were unnerved by the flippant-natured comment, which came from the very command that controls American nuclear capabilities.
“This is really disturbing coming from US Strategic Command. It isn’t amusing. It is terrifying,” wrote one user. Another questioned whether the military planned a bomb strike for midnight.
The original post came hours before outgoing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ended his two years as Pentagon chief.
“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,” a U.S. Strategic Command spokesman told The Washington Post.