US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan

The United States on Thursday dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan, the first time such a bomb has been used in combat, the Pentagon announced. 

At about 7:30 p.m. local time in Afghanistan, Operation Resolute Support dropped a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) on a series of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria tunnels in the Achin District in Nangarhar province, a Pentagon spokesman told The Hill.

The MOAB is one of the powerful non-nuclear bombs in the United States arsenal and is the most powerful bomb the U.S. has used in Afghanistan. 

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President Trump declared the bombing a successful mission and criticized former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation MORE's approach to Afghanistan and ISIS.
“Very, very proud of the people," he said when asked about the bombing. "Really, another successful job. We’re very very proud of our military. It was another successful event.
 
"If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that to what’s really happened over the last eight years, you’ll see there is a tremendous difference. Tremendous difference," he added.
 
Trump on the campaign trail vowed to take the fight to ISIS, memorably saying he would "bomb the s---" out of them if elected.
 
But in the last week, much of Trump's focus has been on Syria, which the U.S. hit with missiles on April 6. 

In Afghanistan, on the order of Army Gen. John Nicholson, an Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft dropped the massive conventional weapon.

Trump, asked if he had authorized the use of the bomb, said he had authorized the military. 

“Everybody knows exactly what happened, so, and what I do is I authorize my military," he told reporters.

"We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done a job as usual so we have given them total authorization. And that’s what they’re doing. And, frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately."

A Pentagon official said Nicholson did not need direct authority from the president to take that action.

White House press secretary said the U.S. had taken precautions to prevent civilian casualties caused by the bomb, which has a blast radius of 1 mile.

The MOAB, which weighs about 25,000 pounds, replaced a Vietnam-era bomb known as Daisy Cutter in the late 2000s. It is sometimes also called the "Mother Of All Bombs," and had previously only ever been used in testing. 

"The 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 Pentagon said in a statement. The military uses an added K, which stands for Khorasan, when referring to ISIS's branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  

“As ISIS-K’s loses have mounted, they are using [improvised explosive devices], bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense," Nicholson said in a statement. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offenses against ISIS-K.”

The bombing follows Trump's announcement this week that he will send national security adviser H.R. McMaster, to Afghanistan to "find out how we can make progress alongside our Afghan partners."

Updated at 2:56 p.m.