President Trump told the American public Thursday that the U.S. military’s decision to drop a giant bomb – the largest non-nuclear device in the U.S. arsenal at 21,000 pounds – on ISIS in Afghanistan was a “another very, very successful mission.”
Officials announced the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB – also known as the “mother of all bombs” – was dropped in Nangarhar Province near the Pakistan border.
It was the first time the weapon ever has been used in combat.
The president, addressing the media only briefly on the topic, said he had given U.S. military commanders in the Middle East region “total authorization.”
“That’s why they’ve been so successful lately,” he said.
His orders to the military comply with a campaign promise to bomb and destroy ISIS.
“We have an incredible military,” the president said. “Another very, very successful mission.”
Asked if bombing ISIS sent a message to North Korea, he responded: “I don’t know if this sends a message. Doesn’t make a difference if it does or not.”
He added, however: “I think China has been working very hard. I have gotten to like and respect President Xi. He’s a very special man. I think he’s going to try very hard.”
China is considered to have the most influence over North Korea, whose leaders have repeatedly threatened to nuke the U.S. mainland.
The Air Force Times reported the strike was on an ISIS tunnel complex.
U.S. Central Command said the strike used the FBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces in the region.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John W. Nicholson, the top commander in Afghanistan, said in the Times report. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”
ISIS-K refers to the branch of ISIS that operates in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
Only a few days earlier, a U.S. Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar of the 7th Special Forces Group, was killed by enemy small-arms fire.
The Times said Bill Roggio of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies doesn’t think the U.S. attack is mere coincidence.
“There might have been a degree of payback here as well,” Roggio said. “There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, especially if you’re killing your enemy.”
He explained to the Times the bomb is especially effective against enemy combatants who hide in caves.
“What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire.”
The bomb was delivered by a C-130 cargo plane, Fox News reported.
“We 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 the area,” explained White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.