The U.S. military dropped one of its most powerful non-nuclear bombs — a massive 21,000-pound conventional bomb nicknamed the "Mother of All Bombs" — on an ISIS tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan, the first time it has been used in combat.
The GBU-43B, a MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast) weapon, was dropped from a U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane due to its massive size, where U.S.-backed Afghan forces are battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
A GBU-43B weighs a massive 21,000 pounds and costs $16 million each. The bomb, dropped from a C-130 cargo plane, explodes in the air, creating air pressure that can collapse tunnels and buildings.
It will not only destroy a tunnel complex … its blast, which can be heard and felt for miles, also projects a psychological impact because of the awesome sensation of massive destructive power that it casts.
By comparison, each Tomahawk cruise missile launched at a Syrian military air base last week weighed 1,000 pounds each. Each MOAB is like 21 cruise missiles hitting the same point all at once.
The decision to drop the bomb was made because it was the best fit for the target: tunnel complexes in a rural area far enough from innocent civilians, and lethal enough to kill ISIS fighters.
The White House was told about the bomb’s use but that the use of the bomb did not require the president’s approval. The military had the authority to use the bomb under President Barack Obama as well as President Trump.
Fighting between ISIS and Afghan forces in the region has intensified recently. A U.S. Special Forces Green Beret soldier advising the Afghans was killed in the area Saturday, the first U.S. combat death this year.
The Islamic State has emerged over the past year as a threat in Afghanistan, though the organization is not nearly as large as the Taliban, which ruled the country until the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
The U.S. estimates that between 600 to 800 ISIS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban.