dropped “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear device it
has ever unleashed in combat, on a network of caves and tunnels used by
Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, the military said.
Donald Trump touted the bombing as evidence of a more muscular U.S.
foreign policy since he took office in January after eight years of
President Barack Obama.
21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GBU-43 bomb was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft
in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with
Pakistan, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said.
The GBU-43, also known as the
“mother of all bombs,” is a GPS-guided munition and was first tested in
March 2003. It is regarded as particularly effective against clusters of
targets on or just underneath the ground.
It was the first time the United States has used this size of conventional bomb in a conflict.
Trump described the bombing as a “very successful mission.” It was not immediately clear how much damage the device did.
last year’s presidential election campaign, Trump vowed to give
priority to destroying Islamic State, which operates mostly in Syria and
Iraq. He flexed U.S. military muscles last week by ordering a cruise
missile attack on a Syrian government airbase in retaliation for a
poison gas attack.
“If you look at what’s happened over
the last eight weeks and compare that really to what’s happened over
the last eight years, you’ll see that there’s a tremendous difference,”
Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
security situation remains precarious in Afghanistan, with a number of
militant groups trying to claim territory more than 15 years after the
U.S. invasion which toppled the Taliban government.
So far, Trump has offered little clarity about a broader strategy for Afghanistan, where some 8,400 U.S. troops remain.
week, a U.S. soldier was killed in the same district as where the bomb
was dropped while he was conducting operations against Islamic State.
House spokesman Sean Spicer said the bombing “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
said the bomb was dropped at around 7 p.m. local time and described it
as “a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon.” U.S. forces took
“all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and
collateral damage,” he said.
policy experts said that it appeared the use of such a specialized
weapon had more to do with the type of target — tunnels — than the
United States sending any message to other countries by using such a
“This is a very specialized weapon,
we don’t have very many of them, you can only use them in a very narrow
set of circumstances,” said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the
Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
added that while sending a message to Syria or North Korea could have
been among the secondary factors considered, they would not have been
the main reason for using this type of weapon.
top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said recently that he needed several
thousand more international troops in order to break a stalemate in the
long war with Taliban insurgents.
U.S. officials say intelligence suggests Islamic State is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province.
of its strength in Afghanistan vary. U.S. officials have said they
believe the movement has only 700 fighters but Afghan officials estimate
it has about 1,500.
Afghan Taliban, which is trying to overthrow the U.S.-backed government
in Kabul, are fiercely opposed to Islamic State and the two group have
clashed as they seek to expand territory and influence.