US military drops MOAB on Islamic State in Afghanistan

The US military dropped the “MOAB,” the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb which is better known as the “Mother of all Bombs,” on Islamic State fighters in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. The strike took place in Achin, the same district where a US special forces solider was killed last week.

This is the first use of such a weapon, the largest non-nuclear bomb in the US arensal, in combat. The 21,000-pound bomb, which was brought into service in 2008, was dropped from a C-130.

From the US Forces Afghanistan press release:

At 7:32 pm local time today, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan conducted a strike on an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017.

The strike used a GBU-43 bomb dropped from a U.S. aircraft. 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.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” said General John W. Nicholson, Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”

U.S. Forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. U.S. Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan.

US and Afghan forces have been attempting to clear the Islamic State’s so-called Khorasan province from Achin and several other districts in eastern Afghanistan for nearly two years, but like the Taliban in other areas of Afghanistan, the group remains entrenched. The deployment of the MOAB may indicate a degree of desperation in the fight against the Islamic State in Achin district. The MOAB reportedly cost $314 million to develop and has a unit cost of $16 million.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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17 Comments

  • Trevor Day says:

    is this the same weapon as a daisy cutter? didn’t the US use a few of these 10 years ago?

    • Sudsy says:

      Trevor Day, you are thinking of the 15,000 lbs BLU-82 “Daisy Cutter” first utilized during the Vietnam Era. MOAB is the 21,000 lbs GBU-43 (which indicates that there is guidance to it as well as being bigger).

  • GetAReceiptForYourVote says:

    “degrade and destroy” was pretty much a ton of bs — this marks a definitive start to getting after isis and hopefully al qaeda and all of the rest of the jihadist insects that roam the Earth RELENTLESSLY.

    How RIDICULOUS was this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foNj8ml2Ucc

    There’s a new sheriff in town.

  • den says:

    Never use a small caliber round on a big man.

  • Arjuna says:

    BDA?

  • DB says:

    So soon after Secretary Tillerson’s meeting with Lavrov and Putin, this is likely a message telling them there is no need to support the Taliban in its fight against IS-KP; that “we’ve got this, back off”. Amongst other things.

    Can’t wait for the footage.

    • Arjuna says:

      Silly anti-Russian comment. They could be so helpful if we weren’t so blind.
      We support the Taliban by trying to surrender to them every, single day.

      • DB says:

        As usual Arjuna, in your efforts to self-aggrandise you misread my comment.

        Nowhere have I even inferred we shouldn’t be allying with the Russians in the fight. I hypothesised a possibility.

        But anyway – I agree. Instead of constantly alienating the Russians in the fight against Islamic terrorism we should be uniting as they would be a significant force multiplier.

        But that still does not mean we should be condoning their support — even if tacit — for the Taliban in its fight against ISK-P.

  • harbidoll says:

    Was it Taliban or ISIS. There is some contradictory reports. Tali are homeboys & ISIS is international.

  • Mark Adkins says:

    Curious that a bomb appearing in a 2003 test video wasn’t used for 14 years despite the high development costs.

  • Robert says:

    Well obviously we need to drop 20 of them to get back the development costs. Plus, they were made in my hometown.

  • Dwight Newsom says:

    It should shake up the militants to get hit with such a weapon.

  • etudiant says:

    The Russian news media claim that the US funded the construction of these tunnels during some earlier phase of the Afghan war.
    That would explain how the bomb targeting information was obtained, but raises the question of how and when such an installation was lost.
    Can anyone shed some light on this?

    • Arjuna says:

      This cave complex formed part of the Greater Tora Bora anti-Russian effort. When we withdrew from AFG, we withdrew most comprehensively, leaving all sorts of strategic assets (tunnels) completely in the hands of children (ANA).
      To paraphrase the great Britney Spears: “Oops we did it again!” (Left modern weapons in the hands of primitive tribals and expected a good outcome.).

  • will conley says:

    Like you said Bill, we could drop 20 of these and we would still be losing this war.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis