News, Security

‘Mother of all bombs’ signals heightened Trump’s Af-Pak engagement

America drops the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat anywhere in the world on ISIS dominated location on Afghanistan- Pakistan border.

In the evening of  April 13 2017,  the United States Air force dropped  a GBU-43/B bomb in  the Af-Pak region along the Durand line. The target of the bomb, according to the US Special Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) had been the hideouts and tunnels of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in the Nangarhar Province of eastern Afghanistan touching Pakistan’s restive north western frontier region.

More intense American combat involvement in Af-Pak region under Donald Trump in the offing:

The bombing has clearly signalled a higher and a more intense  American direct involvement in the Afghanistan- Pakistan border regions that is fast emerging as the new hub of international terrorism. The previous Obama Administration also considered the ‘Af-Pak’ region as a troubled location. Although there has been a bi-partisan consensus in the American polity witnessed throughout the last year’s American election cycle about the need to effectively tackle the troubled region, yet the level the involvement from the current Trump administration is expected to much higher. 

The strike in Afghanistan is part of a huge increase in the American air war in Afghanistan that started under the Obama administration, but has increased even more sharply under President Donald Trump. In the first three months of 2017, American planes have dropped over 450 bombs on targets in Afghanistan, compared to about 1,300 for all of 2016, according to U.S. Air Force statistics. The number of strikes in the first two months of the Trump administration more than doubled the number taken in the same time period under the Obama administration.

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

According to U.S. military estimates, there are between 600 and 800 Islamic State fighters operating in Afghanistan. Last month, Afghan troops backed up by American Special Forces advisors launched a major offensive against the group in Nangarhar, which had resulted in the death of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar on April 8, the first American combat death in Afghanistan this year.

The GBU 43/B or the MOAB bomb is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat anywhere in the world.

The target Achin district is a Pashtun dominated region located barely a hundred kilometres from Peshawar, a major city in Pakistan.

The location of bombing at Achin district in Afganistan

(Reporting on the bombing. Source: Fox News)

Reactions to the bombing:

“The explosion was the biggest I have ever seen. Towering flames engulfed the area”-  Esmail Shinwari,  Achin District Head.

ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan has proved resilient against U.S. and Afghan Security Forces raids. The bomb dropped on Achin district in Nangarhar province is  the known headquarters of the terrorist group.

“The decision to drop the MOAB in eastern Afghanistan sends a clear message that the US is committed and determined to defeating ISIS and other terrorist organisations in Afghanistan” –Senator Jim Inhofe, Senate Armed Services Committee.

Ten quick facts about the bombing:

  1. The United States dropped the ‘GBU-43/B’ also called Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) in Afghanistan.
  2. The target was at the Achin district of Nangarhar province of Afganistan bordering Pakistan.
  3. GBU 43/B or the MOAB bomb is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat anywhere in the world.
  4. The bomb was dropped from a C-130 Hercules aircraft variant called MC-130.
  5. The GBU-43 is a 21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GPS-guided bomb for precision targeting.
  6. The bomb was first tested in March 2003 in Florida at the Eglin Air Force Base.
  7. The bomb has been used against caves and bunkers housing the Islamic State in Afghanistan (ISIS-K).
  8. The MOAB left a cloud of smoke that was visible up to 20 miles from the scene of the blast.
  9. The bomb is approximately 30ft long and detonates 6ft off the ground to increase its destructive power.
  10. The bombing has clearly signalled higher future American involvement in the Afghanistan Pakistan border regions that is fast emerging as the new hub of international terrorism.

Learn more about GBU 43/B Bomb:

(News Desk, Uncolumn)


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