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A cringe-worthy exchange on Twitter between the US Army esports team and the chat platform Discord has awakened many gamers to the Pentagon’s presence in videogames and the lengths to which the soldiers will go to fit in.

In the early hours of Tuesday, whoever runs the Army Esports (USAE) Twitter asked their counterpart at Discord for a stuffed toy (!) of the platform’s mascot. When Discord responded they’d check with “merch store boss lady,” the Army responded with “Uwu” and heart emojis.

The baby-talk expression for “being overwhelmed with cuteness” did not sit quite well with much of Twitter, to put it mildly.

US Army ESports ???????? pic.twitter.com/LeTVqoNqYY

In addition to the cringe-inducing lingo, many users were appalled that the Army had an esports team to begin with. One used the same kind of mocking baby-talk to mock it as a “drone pilot training program in disguise.”

the fact *alone* that “us army esports” is even a thing in the first place is some truly dystopian shit but like”how do you do fewwow gamews uwu🌸 come join our mlg esports team that we PROMISE isnt just a drone pilot training program in disguise uwuwuwuwuwu” pic.twitter.com/vDfi8JqljS

Others called for de-funding it, echoing the current Black Lives Matter campaign to abolish the police. 

Another popular reaction was, “We truly live in hell.” 

more and more people are saying this but we truly live in hell pic.twitter.com/IorPkaPE38

There were some who wondered why the Army was spending money on an esports league, because that’s the “wrong Korea” – referring to the fact that esports are big in South Korea, and not so much north of the 38th parallel.

Why is the US Army spending billions on an esports league? Like, bitch you’re worried about conflict with the wrong Korea.

The Army’s esports team has actually been around for almost two years. Their Twitter account was set up in October 2018, and the official announcement was made in November. Its stated purpose is not to train drone operators or simulate warfare, but domestic public relations.

“They will be in a support role to help young people see soldiers in a different light and understand the many different roles people can have in the Army and help the Army address the growing disconnect with society,” Army Recruiting Command spokeswoman Kelli Bland said at the time, adding that the team would be part of the Marketing and Engagement team based in in Kentucky.

A glance at their Twitter feed shows them active not just in games one would typically associate with the military – such as Call of Duty or Rainbow Six – but also Valorant, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft, for example. 

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