The U.S. military on Thursday dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal against the Islamic State in Afghanistan, marking the first ever combat use of the massive ordnance.
An Air Force MC-130 special operations aircraft dropped the 21-000-pound GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, bomb against militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s branch called Khorasan, or ISIS-K, which operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to U.S. Central Command.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said in a statement, referring to improvised explosive devices. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”
The strike took place at 7:32 p.m. local time and targeted a tunnel complex in the Achin district in Nangarhar province, according to the statement.
The mission comes less than a week after a U.S. Green Beret was killed in action Saturday in the same province. Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, died of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
During a brief press conference, President Donald Trump was asked whether he authorized the mission.
“Everybody knows exactly what happened,” he said. “We have given them total authorization and that’s what they’re doing,” he added, referring to military leaders. “Frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successfully lately … we have incredible leaders in the military and … we are very proud of them. This was another very, very successful mission.”
When asked whether use of the bomb — known as the “mother of all bombs” — sends a message to North Korea, which has threatened to test more missiles and nuclear weapons, the president said, “I don’t know … It doesn’t make any difference if it does or doesn’t. North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of.”
Read more of this story at Military.com.