By David Martosko
The United States has dropped its largest non-nuclear weapon after it targeted ISIS a network of caves and tunnels in eastern Afghanistan.
U.S. forces used a GPS-guided GBU-43 bomb, which is 30 feet long and weighs a staggering 21,600 pounds.
It is known as the ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ – a play on ‘MOAB,’ an acronym that stands for ‘Massive Ordnance Air Burst.’
A crater left by the blast is believed to be more than 300 meters wide after it exploded six feet above the ground. Anyone at the blast site was vaporized.
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that he was ‘very, very proud’ and called the operation ‘really another successful job. We’re very, very proud of our military.’
The Pentagon is denying that the attack was a revenge strike despite the fact that it came in the same area of Afghanistan where a Green Beret soldier was killed on Saturday.
Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, of 7th Special Forces Group, was cut down by enemy small arms fire while his unit was conducting counter-ISIS operations.
The military used a GBU-43 (pictured), which weighs a staggering 21,600 pounds, and has earned the moniker ‘Mother Of All Bombs
That MOAB’s first practical test was carried out on March 11, 2003 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that he had authorized his military commanders to take actions like the one put into play on Thursday
Trump suggested he had not personally ordered the bomb strike but delegated authority to commanders in the field.
‘Everybody knows exactly what happened. So, what I do is I authorize my military … We have given them total authorization,’ he said.
The move marks the fulfilment of a 17-month-old campaign promise Trump delivered in Iowa, when he scoffed at ISIS terror forces and said he ‘would bomb the s**t out of them’ if he became president.
It also comes at a moment in the young Trump presidency when tensions are rising with Russia over its role in Syria, where ISIS has its headquarters.
Huge: The MOAB test fired in 2003 shortly before final preparations for it to be loaded onto an MC-130 attack aircraft
The explosion will also send a saber-rattling message to North Korea and Iran that rogue states’ nuclear-weapons ambitions could be met with brute force.
Trump said of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un: ‘I don’t know if this sends a message. It doesn’t make any difference if it does or not.’
‘North Korea’s a problem. The problem will be taken care of.’
The Department of Defense is denying that Thursday’s attack was revenge for Saturday’s death of Green Beret sergeant Mark De Alencar in the same region of Afghanistan
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that MOAB is ‘a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon’ whose use was intended to collapse underground spaces used by ISIS terrorists to move freely and attack U.S. and allied troops.
‘The United States takes the fight against ISIS seriously, and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space – which we did,’ Spicer said.
He referred reporters’ questions to the Pentagon and ignored a shouted question about whether Trump had been aware the bomb was dropped before or during the military operation.
Trump said during a November 2015 campaign rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa that ISIS was ‘making a tremendous amount of money’ because of ‘certain areas of oil that they took away’ after the Obama administration withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the s**t out of them,’ he said to wild cheers. ‘I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left.’
Preparations: This was the scene as the only other MOAB to be exploded was readied for action in 2003 in Florida. The tail rotor is part of the guidance system for it to exploded over a specified target
Mushroom cloud: This was the aftermath of the test explosion seen outside Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
The MOAB was pushed out the back door of a giant cargo plane on Thursday, flying to its target with GPS guidance. A MOAB has only been exploded once before – in a 2003 test
A specialized MC-130 ‘Hercules’ cargo aircraft released the weapon at 7:00 p.m. local time.
It was too big to drop from a traditional bomb-bay door or release from an aircraft wing, so ‘we kicked it out the back door,’ a U.S. official told Fox News.
The weapon’s sheer power produces a blast that can be felt miles away, largely because of its construction.
Engineers used an unusually thin aluminum skin to encase MOAB’s payload, in order to avoid a thicker steel frame interfering with the impact on a target.
The U.S. fast-tracked the MOAB in 2003 for use in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the Defense Department later decided that the enemy provided too little resistance to justify its deployment.
It was available to the Obama administration throughout the former president’s entire two terms, but he never deployed it in combat.
Its first practical test was carried out on March 11, 2003 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The weapon carries a blast wave that can be felt more than a mile away
The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that the explosive colossus was dropped in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, making it the first time America’s largest non-nuclear weapon has been used in a combat situation.
Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said it was the first ever combat use of the bomb, which contains 11 tons of explosives.
Stump said the bomb was dropped on a cave complex believed to be used by ISIS fighters in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, very close to the border with Pakistan.
Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement about ISIS that ‘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].’
News reports suggest Nicholson made the decision to drop it from the sky.
He added that ‘[t]he strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities.’
The ISIS faction in Afghanistan is known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-Khorasan province, or ISIS-K.