On Thursday, the United States military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on an ISIS tunnel complex in east Afghanistan.
The GBU-43B, a 21,000-pound bomb, was deployed in Nangarhar Province close to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. By comparison, each Tomahawk cruise missile launched at a Syrian military air base last week weighed 1,000 pounds each.
Thursday marks the first time that the MOAB — Massive Ordnance Air Blast — also known as the “Mother Of All Bombs,” has been used in combat since its creation in 2003.
Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said the bomb had been brought to Afghanistan “some time ago” for potential use. The bomb explodes in the air, creating air pressure that can make tunnels and other structures collapse. It can be used at the start of an offensive to soften up the enemy, weakening both its infrastructure and morale.
“As ISIS’ losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS.”
President Trump told media Thursday afternoon that “this was another successful mission” and he gave the military total authorization.
The MOAB had to be dropped out of the back of a U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane due to its massive size.
“We kicked it out the back door,” one U.S. official said.
Ismail Shinwari, the governor of Achin district, said the U.S. attack was carried out in a remote mountainous area with no civilian homes nearby. He also said that there had been no reports of injured civilians and that there has been heavy fighting in the area in recent weeks between Afghan forces and ISIS militants.
The strike came just days after a Green Beret was killed fighting ISIS in Nangarhar. However, a U.S. defense official said the bombing had nothing to do with that casualty.