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Trump Strikes

Updated on May 4, 2017

President Donald J. Trump refused to say whether he signed off on the nonnuclear bomb dropped in a province on the Afghani/Pakistani border (near Kabul, Afghanistan) last week.

The United States military used what is called a MOAB (GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb). At thirty feet long and weighing over 20,000 pounds, it is referred to as “the mother of all bombs,” and it’s the U.S. Military’s most powerful bomb.

The target was an ISIS held military complex in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan that contained underground tunnels and supply routes. The decision to drop the MOAB only came after U.S. Special forces were unable to infiltrate the facilities on the ground.

GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb
GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb

The MOAB was developed during the Iraqi War, and was designed to explode before it hit the target so as to not limit the circumference of the blast, and had originally been intended for “psychological operations.” The idea was for its sound to inflict so much fear into the Iraqi troops that they would stop fighting. The same type of effect is intended to occur after just seeing the explosion. Given that it isn’t an actual nuclear weapon, and the MOAB has an immediately fatal blast radius of 2-5 miles, there would likely be many soldiers in the area that would see the blast, and become paralyzed with fear.

Despite the fact that the MOAB has an explosion power of almost 11 tons of TNT, it is still dwarfed by the explosion of an actual nuclear bomb. The explosive yield of the MOAB is about 0.011 kilotons and the yield of a nuclear weapon is between 10-180 kilotons.

A large non-nuclear explosion
A large non-nuclear explosion

Trump also has over 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan fighting ISIS, which is separate from the U.S.-led NATO mission to give training, assistance, and advice to Afghani soldiers.

The failed efforts prior to the bombing weren’t the first failed military efforts in the notorious, strongly, and expertly held military outpost that U.S. forces (as well as other militaries) were unable to infiltrate and secure the region. Only months after 9/11, the British Special Boat Service (SBS) Team intercepted radio communication and interpreted a voice that they believed to be Bin Laden’s. He was then seen in camouflage with a fifty man security detail headed towards the cave complex of Tora Bora, right on the eastern Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

The SBS was joined by an American-led team of CIA and Special Forces, and they followed him from Jalalabad into the White Mountains, and then toward the caves. The terrains of the White Mountains are extremely treacherous, and it’s been said by many that have been there to be the most dangerous terrain they’d ever been through. After setting up a base, they continued and soon reached a clearing where they were met by almost 1,000 al-Qaeda soldiers. Their American-led team’s goal was to capture Bin Laden, and al-Qaeda’s mission was to protect him.

After several hours of air-strikes and gunfire, the U.S. Military had literally destroyed enough of the landscape so that pre-existing maps of the region had to be redrawn. Despite this, Bin Laden was able to escape amidst the gunfire and confusion among the foreign invaders. One speculation for Bin Laden’s escape at Tora Bora was that the Afghani soldiers that were supposed to be aiding the U.S. and British Special Forces had been poorly trained and ill equipped. They also seemed to have contradictory goals, as they had been trying to negotiate peace talks with al-Qaeda, even on occasion refusing to fight.

Another speculation as to how Bin Laden was able to escape was that when a call was made to Washington to ask for troops along border of Pakistan to prevent Bin Laden from crossing, the mission became political, and died there on the spot.

One possibility, is that the city of Kabul and the surrounding regions have been inhabited for roughly 3,000 years by the native Arabs. They know the land, and more importantly, the mountain ranges.

The Russians learned that lesson as well during the Russian-Afghanistan War in the late 1970’s, which one could argue gave birth to al-Qaeda in those very same mountain ranges, which is also where ISIS was operating, before the MOAB was dropped.

The Mountains of the Nangarhar Province
The Mountains of the Nangarhar Province

What was referred to in the late 70’s as “the foreign fighter phenomenon” is seemingly referred to today as being a “lone wolf.” During the Russian-Afghani War, Muslims from all across the Middle East flocked to the Afghanistan border to fight off the invading Russians. Nomadic fighters and militias in the regions are not uncommon. In fact, one pre-existing grievance the U.S. had with the Syrian government (before tensions increased in 2010 and 2011) led by Bashar al-Assad was that Syrian soldiers and civilians had flocked to Iraq to aid the war effort against American armed forces during the War in Iraq.

The term “lone wolf” is generally used to describe someone that carries out a terrorist attack with little to no assistance and/or communication with a larger organization, such as ISIS.

The “foreign fighter phenomenon” is similar in that they are both most often religiously motivated, and decentralized from a larger organization, but in the late 70’s and early 80’s when Osama Bin Laden was establishing his place as the founder and leader of al-Qaeda, foreign fighters were called upon to resist the Russians in the name of Islam, and what some may refer to as “lone wolfs” had come to the region to fight with the whole.

Bin Laden, coming from a very rich Saudi Arabian family with ties to the Saud regime, and having a college degree in Economics, funded the operation against the Russians, and in short time, that resistance became al-Qaeda.

That’s all gone now.

Nuclear test, 1946
Nuclear test, 1946

There were no civilian casualties, as there were no civilians living in the area due to the consistent presence of Islamic extremists, but the MOAB’s massive soundwaves were felt like tremors from several miles away. House windows were shattered from the blast. Many residents thought they were being directly attacked by drone strikes. Some even believed it was the end of times.

For such a powerful and destructive non-nuclear bomb, one would think that there would be more than 100 ISIS fighters killed, but where the MOAB did not show its potential there, it obliterated a crucial strategic military base for ISIS, as well as any and all Islamic extremists in the near future.

For reference though, the blast of the MOAB was powerful enough to kill, or severely injure any living thing within a five mile radius. The MOAB was GPS-guided, and every precaution was taken to avoid any and all civilian casualties, which, again, wasn’t a very difficult task considering there weren’t any civilians living in the immediate area. Given a more densely populated area, like downtown Chicago for instance, if the bomb were dropped right on Michigan Ave. there would be roughly 35,000 casualties and 15,000 injured.

That’s a MOAB.

A ten kiloton nuclear weapon, dropped in the same location, would cause about 200,000 casualties, with about the same amount of injuries.

Given the outcome, do you support Trump's and/or the U.S. Military's decision to drop the MOAB?

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