US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan

(Source: CNN)  The U.S. dropped a bomb in the Nangahar Province in Afghanistan, reportedly targeting a network of caves used by ISIS. (Source: CNN) (Source: CNN) The U.S. dropped a bomb in the Nangahar Province in Afghanistan, reportedly targeting a network of caves used by ISIS. (Source: CNN)
Pictured is the MOAB glide bomb displayed at the USAF Armaments Museum at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. (Source: Greg Goebel/Flickr) Pictured is the MOAB glide bomb displayed at the USAF Armaments Museum at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. (Source: Greg Goebel/Flickr)

(RNN) - The U.S. Air Force dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb in the Nangahar Province in Afghanistan on a suspected ISIS target, military officials said.

Called "the mother of all bombs," the MOAB is a large-yield conventional bomb that was dropped for the first time in combat in the Nangahar Province of Afghanistan, near its border with Pakistan. 

The Department of Defense said the 21,600-pound bomb was dropped to destroy a "series of ISIS caves," according to a tweet.  

"Really, another successful job," President Donald Trump said shortly after strike. "We're very, very proud of our military."

When asked if he personally authorized the strike, the president was vague, saying instead he had given the military "total authorization."

"Everybody knows exactly what happened," he said. "What I do is authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they've done a job as usual. We've given them total authorization and that's what they're doing. Frankly, that's why they've been successful lately. If you look at what's happened over the last 8 weeks and compare it to what's happened over the last 8 years, you'll see there's a tremendous difference."

In the daily briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of the bombing: "We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area. The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously."

He refused to answer questions about the bomb's use, referring them to the Department of Defense.

A MC-130 aircraft stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command dropped the bomb, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.

"As (Islamic State Khurasan's) losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense," said Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. "This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K."

A Special Forces soldier was killed in Nangarhar province Saturday, the Air Force Times said. Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar was killed Saturday by enemy small arms fire, according to the Defense Department. 

The Department of Defense said there are 600 to 800 ISIS fighters in the region the bomb hit. The military said they took steps to avoid civilian casualties.

Reconnaissance missions will assess the damage to the caves, which were once used by al-Queda, CNN reported, and the Pentagon is discussing sending U.S. military trainers to Afghanistan because the country has difficulty maintaining its own security.

The Afghanistan government has a hard time holding the remote area because of limited resources and corruption.

The Taliban has even overrun American outposts in this region in the past.

This is the second use of force by Trump since he took office in January. On Thursday, April 6, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a base controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

The bombing was in response to a chemical attack on civilians that killed at least 85 people, 23 of whom were children. Allegedly, the chemical weapon attack originated from this base.

The MOAB is 30 feet long and detonates about six feet off the ground, maximizing the range of its destructive power.

Delivered using a C-130 Hercules, the MOAB is a parachute-delivered bomb. As it deploys, the Inertial Navigation System and Global Positioning System take over. The bomb also has wings and grid fins for guidance.

It produces the effect of 11 tons on TNT, leaving a blast radius of a mile in each direction.

The poweful bomb's roots date back to the U.S. war against Iraq.

The Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate at Eglin AFB, FL, developed the bomb rapidly in 2002 and 2003 as a replacement for the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter, according to a 2008 news release by Eglin AFB, FL, on the bomb's fifth anniversary.

In 2003, the bomb was moved into the Persian Gulf area to an undisclosed forward base.

The military intended the MOAB to be used against large formations of troops and equipment or against hardened above-ground bunkers, as well as deeply buried targets, CNN reported.

However, it was primarily intended as a psychological weapon.

"The goal is to have the pressure be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates," said then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a March 2003 interview, Eglin AFB, FL . "Short of that - an unwillingness to cooperate - the goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight against the coalition." 

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