What is US Strategic Command? Agency that controls America's nukes had its Twitter account accessed by a child
The official Twitter account of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) shared gibberish on Sunday, March 28. The tweet,“;l;;gmlxzssaw.” was made and then deleted shortly after. Following this, the account tweeted, “Apologizes for any confusion. Please disregard this post.” Both tweets have since been deleted.
A Freedom of Information Act request for the reason behind this mysterious happening revealed something entirely unexpected. The tweet was produced by a child. And that it was not nuclear launch codes, accidentally made public. And that this was not the end of the world.
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Not with a bang but a ;l;;gmlxzssaw.— Erik Kennedy (@thetearooms) March 29, 2021
brb ✈️ nuclear codes pic.twitter.com/G8OnFSidgx— David Mack (@davidmackau) March 29, 2021
The FOIA request received a response. It said, “The explanation of this tweet is as follows: The Command's Twitter manager, while in a telework status, momentarily left the Command's Twitter account open and unattended. His very young child took advantage of the situation and started playing with the keys and unfortunately, and unknowingly, posted the tweet. Absolutely nothing nefarious occurred, i.e., no hacking of our Twitter account. The post was discovered and notice to delete it occurred telephonically.”
What is the US Strategic Command?
Located at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, the US Strategic Command is one of eleven unified commands in the Department of Defense. The department is headed by Admiral Charles ‘Chas’ A Richard, who also serves as the senior commander of unified military forces from all four branches of the military assigned to the command.
As per its website, the department “integrates and coordinates the necessary command and control capability to provide support with the most accurate and timely information for the President, the Secretary of Defense, other national leadership and combatant commanders.” Its mission is to “deter strategic attack and employ forces, as directed, to guarantee the security of our Nation and our Allies”.
The command's assigned responsibilities include strategic deterrence, nuclear operations, space operations, joint electronic spectrum operations, global strike, missile defense and analysis and targeting. And as per its own description, the department “combines the synergy of the US legacy nuclear command and control mission with responsibility for space operations, global strike, and global missile defense”.
The US Strategic Command was established on October 1, 2002. As per its own records, the department has made several contributions to national defense. This includes, but is not limited to providing intelligence, planning, and cyber support to coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq; monitoring orbiting satellites and space debris, allowing high-value spacecraft like the International Space Station to maneuver and avoid a collision.
In February 2008, it destroyed a satellite that was about to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. In 2011, it supported US Africa Command's operations against Libya in a variety of ways, including long-range conventional strikes and ISR.
The department, which is in charge of the military’s nuclear forces and deterring missile attacks, in 2018, was criticized for a New Year's Eve tweet joking about dropping bombs. "#TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball...if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger," the account had reportedly tweeted. The department later apologized and said the message was in "poor taste".