Fresh Questions Raised About Impact of Trump's "Mother of All Bombs" Moment
President Donald Trump declared his deployment of the “mother of all bombs” on a remote region of Afghanistan last month a “very successful” mission, but a new analysis is raising questions as to what was actually accomplished and why the mammoth explosive was even dropped to begin with.
The U.K.-based geographic information services (GIS) analyst group Alcis on Wednesday published a new report on the long-term, on-the-ground impact of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB).
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“Drawing on very high resolution satellite imagery, along with recent ground photography and reporting, it is now clear that the recent MOAB strike in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan created far less damage and destruction than was initially widely reported,” the report states.
While the survey confirms the “absolute” destruction of “38 buildings and 69 trees within an area extending 150 meters from the center of the strike location,” the high-res images also reveal “the absence of a 300 meter crater at the strike location”—which was said to be an “expectation” of the blast.
Further, “debunking media reports of the MOAB strike destroying buildings over three kilometers away,” the analysis finds that the damage reported in nearby villages was more likely the “consequence of the ongoing conflict in the area, most likely airstrikes carried out by the U.S. military.”
“Whilst media interest in the story of the MOAB strike was significant, military commentary on the other hand was and still remains muted, save for a few limited press statements and briefings” Alcis observes, noting that the U.S. military is “yet to release a full damage assessment” of the strike.
The Pentagon claimed that the MOAB was dropped to destroy an Islamic State (ISIS) tunnel complex and was, according to Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, “necessary to break” the terrorist group in that region.
“In Afghanistan, [U.S. forces] have been engaged in that fight up in that corner against ISIS elements up there for some time,” Mattis said at the time. “The battle was going on, and we were going to use what was necessary to break ISIS. And we’ve made that very clear in every theater where we’re up against ISIS.”
However, the report notes that “damage to caves and tunnels within the strike location has not yet been assessed.” The Guardian previously reported that the U.S. military has only allowed the Afghan government “limited access to the blast site,” making it impossible to verify the impact.
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