For a nation enamored with yellow ribbons, PDA for men and women in uniform, and shouting “Support Our Troops” into the void until our lungs collapse, we sure seem to know very little about the individuals being supported.
At least that’s one takeaway from a series of recent military-themed social media gaffes on the part of accounts run by government departments and U.S. officials.
Friday yielded multiple mistakes of the sort when, first, the U.S. Department of State extended the U.S. Air Force a happy 73rd birthday wish that was accompanied by an image featuring F/A-18 Hornets flown by the Navy’s Blue Angels.
The image, which depicts the obvious blue and gold color scheme unique to the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, includes one plane that even shows the underside of its wings, a part that universally includes “US NAVY” painted in size 11-million block font.
Echoing the State Department, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent the Air Force some birthday well wishes that, again, were accompanied by the Navy’s world-renowned team.
Never a state to be outdone, Texas Congressman John Carter ramped up the Air Force birthday-Blue Angels whoops parade with a jumbled image featuring an F-22 Raptor, the Blue Angels, and his campaign insignia.
Even the mistakes are bigger in Texas.
Navy officials eventually caught on to the trend of gross misidentification.
“Happy birthday @usairforce, but we’re not giving you the @BlueAngels,” the Navy Chief of Information account tweeted. “Aircraft carriers are also only @USNavy.”
Most of the proofreading-free accounts wisely deleted their misguided well-wishes once they arrived at the realization that a plane in the air does not automatically render it an Air Force plane. But thanks to Politico editor and dad joke connoisseur Dave Brown, there remains a treasure trove of commemorative screenshots.
Still, the Air Force’s birthday was just another example of a profound lack of basic military understanding by those who so often boast of military adoration until blue in the face.
A campaign arm of the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, for example, recently circulated a “Support Our Troops” graphic featuring silhouetted Russian soldiers — one holding a Russian-made AK-74 rifle and another a German-made G36K — underneath three Russian MiG-29 fighter jets, a slip-up first reported by Politico.
In theory the sentiment is not incorrect, since there was no specification on which troops are being supported. Still, it was just one of the litany of military-related social media fallacies to emerge during this week alone.
The image, which was poached from a Shutterstock photo, was created by Russia-based photographer Arthur Zakirov, who confirmed to Politico that the campaign image was “a completely recreated scene from various photographs of mine.”
“Today you hear about the Kremlin’s hand in U.S. politics,” he joked. “Tomorrow you are this hand.”
In Soviet Russia, troops support you.
The image marked another foreign service miscue for the administration, which, in 2015, tweeted a campaign graphic featuring Nazi Waffen SS World War II reenactors in the bottom right corner.