Video Showing ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ Kill 36 Is Questioned Over Excessive Force

by John Haltiwanger

Experts are questioning whether it was really necessary for the US military to drop the "mother of all bombs" on an ISIS facility in Afghanistan on Thursday.

The bomb, officially known as GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), is between 21,000-22,000 pounds, has a blast radius of one mile and cost around $16 million.


This was the first time the MOAB was ever utilized since its development in 2003.

As of Thursday, the MOAB is the most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat.

The US Department of Defense released a video showing the deployment of the MOAB.

Afghanistan officials claim the bomb killed 36 ISIS militants and no civilians, according to the Associated Press.

But, according to a US assessment, there are only 700 ISIS fighters total in Afghanistan, which has some questioning whether using such a powerful bomb to destroy a remote facility and kill a few dozen militants was worth it.

In a statement, General John W. Nicholson, the US commander in Afghanistan, defended the use of the MOAB,

As ISIS-K's losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense. This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.

By "ISIS-K," General Nicholson meant ISIS-Khorasan, the Islamic State's branch in Afghanistan.

Things aren't going so well for the US in Afghanistan.

Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst and professor of politics and global affairs at Arizona State University, challenged the US military's defense of its use of the MOAB.

In Bergen's opinion, the deployment of the MOAB was a desperate move in a lengthy conflict that's not going very well for the US, saying,

The dropping of a 'mother of all bombs' Thursday...should be understood as part of an effort to reverse a war that is not going well for the Afghan government and, by extension, the United States... The war in Afghanistan is at its lowest point for the Afghans and their American allies since the Taliban were overthrown in the months after 9/11. The Taliban 'control or contest' about a third of the population of the country, according to senior US military officials, a total of around 10 million people, which is more than the population that ISIS controlled in Syria and Iraq at the height of its power during the summer of 2014. Al Qaeda and ISIS have also established footholds in Afghanistan.

The dropping of the "MOAB" could also be interpreted as a warning to others. Bergen added,

There are perhaps secondary effects of Thursday's bombing in Afghanistan such as signaling to the North Koreans and the Syrians that the United States can deploy such weapons against their bunker systems.

The US military has been active in Afghanistan since October 2001 -- roughly 16 years.

There are currently 8,400 US troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

What happened Thursday is a sign this likely won't change anytime soon.

Citations: Why Did the U.S. Use the 'Mother of All Bombs' in Afghanistan? (The Atlantic)