Air Force Apologizes for Tweet Linking Deadly Battle to Internet Meme

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt approaches a 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker to get more fuel over Afghanistan on Aug. 2, 2012. Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt approaches a 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker to get more fuel over Afghanistan on Aug. 2, 2012. Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness

The Air Force apologized Thursday for a snarky Tweet meant to highlight the A-10 Thunderbolt's efforts in beating back a Taliban attack in which at least 25 members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces were killed.

"We apologize for the earlier post regarding the A-10," the Air Force said in a follow-up Tweet. "It was made in poor taste. It has since been removed."

The original Tweet said, "The Taliban Forces in Farah city #Afghanistan would much rather have heard #Yanny or #Laurel than the deafening #BRRT they got courtesy of our #A10."

The "Yanny or Laurel" reference was to a popular Internet meme in which an audio recording is played. Some people hear "Yanny," while others hear "Laurel."

The "BRRT" in the Air Force Tweet referenced the sound made by the 30mm rotary nose cannon of the A-10, commonly called the "Warthog" and considered the nation's premier close-air support weapon.

The Air Force Tweet came up in the weekly Pentagon briefing when Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokesperson, was asked whether jokes should be made about a battle in which friendly forces were killed.

White said she wasn't aware of the Tweet and went on to describe the battle for Farah, in western Afghanistan near the Iran border, as a major defeat for the Taliban and an indication that the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan -- aimed at forcing the Taliban into a political settlement -- is taking root.

"Farah has not fallen," White said. "Today, in spite of vain Taliban attempts to challenge the Afghan government's control of Farah city, [the city] remains under the control of the Afghan defense and security forces."

In addition to the A-10, she said Afghan A-29 ground attack aircraft and Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters contributed to beating off the attack, which reportedly resulted in heavy losses for the Taliban. White said the attack on Farah was part of the Taliban's annual spring offensive and "so was to be expected."

Abdul Basir Salangi, governor of Farah province, said at least 25 Afghan troops and five civilians were killed in the attack by the Taliban, which reached the city's center, The New York Times reported.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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