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The Air Force used the “Yanny” or “Laurel” meme to joke on Twitter about killing Taliban fighters

The Air Force has since deleted it, saying it will address the issue internally.

This is the A-10 plane that goes BRRRT.
This is the A-10 plane that goes BRRRT.
Darrell Ingham/Getty Images

The Air Force this morning used a viral internet meme to promote how it fought against the Taliban in Afghanistan. No, seriously.

“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 Air Force tweeted on Thursday morning.

There’s a funny and playful meme asking people whether they hear “Yanny” or “Laurel” when listening to a specific piece of audio. It’s taken the internet by storm, and it seemed the Air Force wanted to get in on the meme.

The Air Force’s tweet has since been deleted.

America’s air fighters were surely trying to draw attention to the A-10s — planes that can fly low to the ground and famously make a brrrt sound with their guns — that the US military called in to push back on an attack by the Taliban on the city of Farah in Afghanistan earlier in the week.

The Taliban briefly took over the city earlier this week, killing at least 25 members of the Afghan security forces and five civilians. With American help, hundreds of Taliban insurgents died in the fighting.

But the Air Force’s tweet received widespread condemnation for using a playful meme to promote its operation.

Screenshot of the Air Force tweet.
Screenshot of the Air Force tweet.

The Taliban is a group that subjugates men, women, and children, has killed scores of Afghans and American troops, and is trying to wrest control of Afghanistan from the US-backed government. It’s obviously not bad that the US military is fighting the Taliban or even promoting military operations against the group. But it’s not in good taste to make light of war using a meme, no matter the situation.

Thomas Watkins, a Pentagon reporter for the AFP, asked the Defense Department on Thursday if it was “appropriate for the Air Force to put out such a lighthearted comment essentially kind of making war a meme in light of the heavy casualties that the Afghans took?” likely referring to the deaths of Afghan security forces and civilians.

Dana White, the top Pentagon spokesperson, said she hadn’t seen the tweet but would look into it.

If she didn’t see it before 1:28 pm, she missed it (at least live online). After nearly six hours, the Air Force took down the original tweet and apologized on Twitter.

It’s unclear how, exactly, the Air Force will deal with the issue, but it most likely won’t be using memes to promote military operations in the near future.