MOAB Drop Triggers 'Mother of All Asinine Criticisms'

by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET) April 21, 2017

On April 13, in Afghan's northeastern province of Nangarhar, separated from Pakistan by White Mountain, the U.S. dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever employed in combat, in the district of Achin where U.S. forces years earlier bombed al-Qaida operatives using the caves of Tora Bora to hide.

The target now was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex stretching 328 yards and located in the open countryside. Approximately 100 fighters were killed with no reported civilian casualties. While ISIS has yet to utter concerns about the type of weapon used - one specifically designed to generate a massive shock wave to crush the life out of all occupants within - astonishingly, we do hear complaints from liberals about its use.

Weighing 21,600 pounds with an explosive force equal to 11 tons of TNT, the GPS-guided GBU-43 - also known as the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) or "Mother of all bombs" - has a destructive diameter of over a mile, destroying reinforced concrete up to 200 feet deep. Tremors were felt in Pakistan.

The enemy's use of cave complexes and tunnel systems has long presented U.S. forces with challenges how best to dislodge or collapse them. During World War II, flamethrowers were used against the Japanese. During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong utilized tunnel systems extending approximately 320 kilometers. Initially started years earlier while fighting the French, they were vastly increased during the war with the U.S.

Upon first determining the enemy's underground hiding ground in Vietnam, various tactics were used against them, such as repeatedly driving tanks overhead to force a collapse. If near a river, water was pumped into tunnels.

Over time, the enemy learned to counter such tactics, either by digging deeper or constructing tunnel bypasses to contain inundating gas or water. This resulted in a courageous group of young Americans, known as tunnel rats, entering into the tunnels to collect intelligence, preventing their future use by spreading contaminants. Many tunnel rats died underground by triggering booby-traps, making recovery of their remains virtually impossible.

During the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. developed, within weeks, another large conventional bomb. Known as a bunker-buster, the GBU-28 penetrated the surface, detonating underground to destroy many of the bunkers Saddam Hussein (wrongly) assumed he had built deep enough to avoid destruction from above. There is no telling how many American lives were spared by not having to access these bunkers to eliminate enemy occupants.

As it is the enemy with the advantage in tunnel or cave fighting due to intimate familiarity with layouts and placement of booby-traps, it makes entry by U.S. forces suicidal. This is what caused the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, to order a MOAB drop so U.S. and Afghan troops did not have to undertake the dangerous mission of clearing caves and tunnels, further defended by bunkers and minefields. The shock wave worked effectively to detonate many landmines and booby-traps as well.

These particular ISIS fighters entered Afghanistan from Pakistan to torture and kill local tribesman and their families in Achin District. There was no love lost for those who died that day. One resident said they were "not human beings" but "savages." He added they married "our daughters and wives to their fighters, blamed residents for spying, they beheaded, cut (off) hands. ..."

Despite the nature of ISIS brutality demonstrated repeatedly during its reign of terror - with Achin residents the most recent victims - shockingly, criticism by Trump's critics has arisen on whether the use of this munition was necessary.

The deputy news director at Buzzfeed News, Tom Namako, queried why use of such a massive bomb was needed. Namako was out-done, however, by a Washington Post staff writer decrying, "We are all going to die." He bemoaned the fact such military weaponry has doomed us all. One can only wonder what action these armchair liberal military critics suggest be employed. While living in their safe spaces, such pundits fail to realize this is not a children's game of hide-and-seek, and simply shouting, "olly, olly, oxen free" will not cause members of one of the most vicious terrorists groups known to man to emerge from their burrows on cue.

An organization behind the upcoming April 22 "March for Science" - prompted by the Women's March - naively suggested all battlefield fights must be equal by circulating the message on social media the MOAB is "an example of how science is weaponized against marginalized people." It makes no mention about a soulless ISIS membership.

Among the high-profile critics was one touted, undeservedly, by Democrats as their 2020 presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The ever-hypocritical Warren - who never questioned President Barack Obama's actions when he declared the purpose of all military operations in Afghanistan were to target ISIS and its leaders - claimed she needed to hear more about use of the MOAB from the generals involved and why they thought it to be the right munition at the right time. A political bulldog with a bone, Warren gnarled, "As is the case with every part of Trump's foreign policy, we're all trying to understand what is the strategy."

While relentlessly having supported Obama's actions in Afghanistan, Warren now seeks specifics. Disregarding the obvious two reasons for MOAB's employment - saving American lives and snuffing out those of brutal killers - Warren's credentials to run in 2020 as her party's presidential candidate are suspect.

Within the last month, numerous ISIS atrocities have been recorded. In the battle for Mosul in Iraq, they have mercilessly used children as human shields. Scores of Iraqi civilians looking to evacuate Mosul as fighting increased were slaughtered by ISIS. ISIS promotes its brutality by creating ever unique ways of executing enemies, from burning adults alive to detonating bombs on babies, to pulling bodies apart using vehicles.

ISIS is a cancer needing eradication by any and all means possible. Those questioning this and our use of the MOAB against ISIS in Afghanistan are either their sympathizers or incompetents - neither of which helps eradicate the problem.

A version of this piece also appeared on http://www.wnd.com/    

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Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.


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