On New Year’s Eve, the United States Strategic Command tweeted a video -- which Navy Captain Brook Dewalt later described as a reassuring message about U.S. military’s “#CombatReadyForce” -- showing a B-2 bomber dropping “a pair of conventional Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOP) at a test range.”
Strategic Command deleted the message later that day and tweeted: “Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values.”
Two points that will not be covered in the media:
1. The Department of Defense accounts for between 50 percent and 60 percent of all government public relations spending. As far as theatrical displays of military hardware, the U.S. Air Force performs more than 1,000 flyovers annually, including the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas in which military aircraft flew over the closed roof of Cowboy Stadium. For 2018 the Air Force lifted limits on flyovers, which it claims, without specific empirical evidence, confer both recruitment and “training” benefits.
2. It is easier for the Pentagon to drop actual bombs than if they decided to drop print-outs of this tweet, given the way approval is organized on a command and control level. According to a study in Joint Force Quarterly:
“In 2016, the United States dropped 24,287 bombs in Iraq and Syria targeting so-called Islamic State (IS) fighters as part of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). The authority to release ordnance for a preplanned target in OIR has been delegated to brigadier generals and below (it is even lower for nonplanned targets in support of American or allied forces). If the U.S. military wishes to conduct an information operation, such as dropping leaflets or beginning a new series of radio broadcasts, the approval authority is higher—a major general. Any information operation conducted via the Internet or social media as part of OIR requires Pentagon-level approval. Despite mounting criticism of the use of American ordnance because of recent civilian casualties, the approval authority to release ordnance has not changed. In fact, President Donald Trump has signaled that he will delegate even greater authority for kinetic operations to military leaders, while the approval process for information operations remains the same.”