15:28 GMT12 May 2021
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    United States Strategic Command (also known by its abbreviation – STRATCOM) is the combatant command in charge of the US nuclear arsenal, air defence, and space forces. In the event of a nuclear war, STRATCOM would be tasked with executing the launch of US nuclear missiles against the enemy.

    STRATCOM has once again terrified its Twitter followers, this time by posting a late night, context-free tweet previewing its nuclear posture update.

    “#USSTRATCOM Posture Review Preview: The spectrum of conflict today is neither linear nor predictable. We must account for the possibility of conflict leading to conditions which could very rapidly drive an adversary to consider nuclear use as their least bad option,” the statement, accompanied by STRATCOM’s logo – a hand in a gauntlet gripping lightning bolts and an olive branch, reads.

    No additional background information, links or context were provided, prompting followers to express their concerns or to ask what’s going on.

    “Well, I’ll sleep good tonight after reading that,” one user quipped.

    Others turned the Twitter thread into back and forth partisan bickering, commenting on the power of the US military-industrial complex, suggesting America should spend less on preparations for war and more on health care, or posting memes (complete with War Games references) to point out the absurdity of the situation.

    This isn’t the first time in recent weeks that STRATCOM’s Twitter has freaked people out. Last month, the command issued an apology after the young child of the person in charge of the STRATCOM Twitter account unwittingly posted a tweet reading “;l;;gmlxzssaw.”

    Context

    The context behind the most recent statement is that STRATCOM plans to release a statement on its updated nuclear posture, with the command’s commander, Adm. Charles Richard, set to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, and the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. There, he and Space Force Command chief Gen. James Dickinson are expected to discuss the US military budget for fiscal year 2022 and the so-called "Future Years Defence Programme" – which summarises and projects forces, resources and equipment associated with all Department of Defence programmes.

    On Monday, in an op-ed for The Hill, Dickinson indicated that his command was tasked with “preparing for the war not yet fought,” and boasted about America’s space-based military capabilities while calling efforts in this direction by Russia and China “threats” to the West.

    The US is in the middle of a 30-year, $1.5 trillion programme to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. US spending is equivalent to up to 53 times what Russia has spent to upgrade its Soviet-era nuclear deterrent in recent years. The US programme was approved by President Barack Obama in late 2016, with Donald Trump adding spending and approving the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-armed adversaries in 2018.

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