The GBU-43/B, known as the ‘mother of all bombs’, dropped for the first time, to target ‘tunnel complex’ used by Islamic State in Khorosan
The US has dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan, the US military said on Thursday.
To target what the military described as a “tunnel complex” used by the Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate, the US for the first time used what the military colloquially calls the “mother of all bombs”, the GBU-43/B.
Designed for destroying underground targets but not itself a deep-earth penetrator weapon, the GBU-43/B has the explosive yield of more than 11 tons of TNT. The massive bomb is dropped from air force planes and detonates before reaching the ground, resulting in an enormous blast radius.
The psychological effect on survivors or observers is considered an added impact of the weapon.
Army general John W Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the GBU-43/B was the “right munition” to use against the Islamic State in Khorosan, or Isis-K.
“As Isis-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense. This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against Isis-K”, Nicholson said.
The blast detonated at 7.32pm local time in the Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, according to the US military.
Nicholson’s command said it took “every precaution to avoid civilian casualties”, without defining those steps, but gave no word on the impact to Afghan civilians.
The military said it used the GBU-43/B to “minimize the risk” to Afghan and US forces fighting Isis-K in Achin.
Donald Trump has said practically nothing about Afghanistan, either as candidate or president. Nicholson told Congress in February that he wanted a few thousand more troops to bolster the 8,400-strong force Barack Obama left to wage America’s longest war, now in its 16th year.
Trump on Wednesday said he would dispatch his national security adviser, HR McMaster, to meet with Nicholson and conduct a policy review. As a three-star army general on active duty, McMaster is outranked by Nicholson, making it difficult for McMaster to resist Nicholson’s recommendations.
The US military is currently facing widespread concerns that its accelerated bombing campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are increasing civilian casualties. A 17 March strike on a building in Mosul is currently under investigation after killing scores of Iraqis.
Trump said on the campaign trail that he would “bomb the shit” out of Isis.
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