U.S. Drops Monster Bomb on ISIS Forces in Afghanistan

Afghanistan officials estimate that 36 Islamic State terrorists were killed Thursday when the U.S. dropped the MOAB on the Nangarhar Province along the Pakistani border. And while a body count like that would garner headlines on its own, it was the bomb itself that turned this into the big story of the week. It is the largest conventional weapon the U.S. has ever used in combat – a 21,000lb behemoth with a mile-wide blast radius. Officially, it’s named the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast. Unofficially, it’s called the Mother of All Bombs.

Owing to the spectacle of the blast, many wondered if the Trump administration had used the bomb to send a message to foes beyond the ISIS leadership. In an interview with Fox News, Newt Gingrich said it was intended for audiences in Moscow and Pyongyang as well. He surmised it to be “a reminder both to the Russians and the North Koreans that we have enormous assets if we want to use them.”

Gingrich said it was impossible to ignore the timing of the blast, coming only one week after U.S. missile strikes in Syria and only days before North Korea is expected to carry out another nuclear test. He said Kim Jong Un must now understand that Trump has the firepower to destroy his weapons program.

“If it’s an underground [nuclear testing] facility, what we just proved in Afghanistan was we have huge non-nuclear conventional weapons that could take out these kinds of facilities,” he said. “So I think the Chinese are trying to say to [Kim Jong Un], ‘Look, you’ve got to take President Trump seriously. This is not like the good old days and you’d better be careful.”

The administration, though, has rejected that theory. Asked about the use of the bomb on Thursday, President Trump downplayed the idea of sending a message to North Korea and suggested, in fact, that he didn’t specifically authorize the strike at all. Rather, he said the military has his “total authorization,” implying that he’s giving the Pentagon a much longer leash than his predecessor.

Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of our Afghanistan operations, said in a statement that the MOAB was simply the right tool for the job.

“As their losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers, and tunnels to thicken their defenses,” Nicholson said of ISIS fighters in the eastern part of the country. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against them.”

Whether this was intended to send a larger message to Russia, Iran, Syria, and North Korea or not, you can rest assured that it did.

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