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How Much Did We Actually Achieve By Dropping The MOAB In Afghanistan?
When the U.S. military dropped the GBU-43, known as the MOAB — short for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or it’s more grabby nickname, the mother of all bombs — on a network of tunnels belonging to Islamic State militants in Afghanistan, it made headlines the world over. Reports of the April 13 strike in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan ran on every major outlet — some set to the uber-patriotic song stylings of Toby Keith, underscoring the bomb’s role as both a tactical asset and a propaganda tool.
But the psychological impact of a strike drops off if nobody knows about the damage it inflicts. A recent report from Alcis, an institute for geographical analysis, which surveyed the targeted area, casts some doubt on the scope and devastation wrought by the MOAB in Nangarhar.
An 11-ton cannister packed to the brim with a highly stable H6 explosive material, the MOAB sends out a massive shockwave when it detonates, making it perfect for the target it was used against — a labyrinth of tunnels with winding corridors concealing militants from the reach of traditional bunker-busting ordnance, notes Wired. But you can’t outrun a torrent of fire and concussive force that winds its way around corners.
Aside from making a pretty big boom, the MOAB makes an equally profound statement, writes Wired’s Emily Dreyfuss — who spoke with a national security official, under the condition of anonymity, about the psychological impact of dropping the mother of all bombs.
"This time, the MOAB served its best strategic purpose — though that may extend beyond the actual impact. Dropping the mother of all bombs also sends a message ‘to the Taliban that there’s a new sheriff in town,’ says the national security official. Presumably also to ISIS, North Korea, and Iran. And the fact that it’s such a big blast doesn’t hurt for courting media attention that helps deliver that warning.
However, if the MOAB failed to rack up the ISIS body count suggested by Afghan military officials, that message could have an adverse effect.
Using satellite imagery, Alcis found that 38 buildings and 69 trees within a 150-meter radius were destroyed, which conflicts with statements from local officials who told reporters on the ground that houses miles away were impacted, according to The Guardian. Additionally, the reports from Afghan government officials that the 94 ISIS fighters were killed in the blast have been greeted with some skepticism, due to the fact that access to the blast site has been severely limited, with local officials and civilian reporters barred from entering.
The U.S. military has also refrained from putting out a casualty estimate, with everyone from Secretary of Defense James Mattis, to military spokesmen more or less saying: We’re not going to go in and dig out the bodies of dead ISIS militants.
To date, no claims of civilian casualties have emerged, but it’s hard to know the full scope of the MOAB strike with information on the bomb’s impact relatively restricted. That raises an intriguing question: If we went through the trouble to drop a MOAB — for the first time in combat — in order to make a statement and deter our enemies, why not provide evidence showing it actually, you know, killed the intended targets?
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.