The United States military dropped the “mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear bomb the U.S. has ever utilized in combat, on an ISIS target in Afghanistan on Thursday.
According to the Pentagon, The GBU-43 bomb was dropped around 7:30 pm local time on caves and tunnels used by ISIS. Trump touted the strike as a more muscular move than those undertaken by the previous administration and a “very successful mission,” though the extent of the damage wasn’t made immediately clear to media outlets.
Trump declined to say if he authorized this particular strike, but did say he gives the military total authorization to take action as they see fit.
“Everybody knows exactly what happens. So, what I do is I authorize our military,” said Trump. “We have given them total authorization and that’s what they’re doing.”
According to a senior administration official, the Trump “administration has moved further away” from personally authorizing military action and dictating military strategies, a change that both Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis desired, noting that the administration does not “approve every strike.”
According to Reuters, foreign policy experts stated that the use of a specialized weapon like the MOAB likely “had more to do with the type of target — tunnels — than the United States sending any message to other countries by using such a powerful weapon.”
“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 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer stated the weapon was “a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon” and that “U.S. forces took “all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage.”
The “mother of all bombs” is one of the most powerful conventional weapons in existence, hence the nickname. The bomb weighs more than 10,000 kilograms and contains 8,164 kilograms of explosives, and its explosion is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT and produces a mile-wide blast radius.