Nicholson: Decision to Use MOAB Came From Commanders on the Ground

The April 13 use of the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb on an ISIS complex in Afghanistan resulted in 36 enemy deaths, and the decision to use the weapon came from commanders on the ground, US and Afghan officials said. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces-Afghanistan, said during a Friday press conference that the mission was not influenced by outside events and the decision to use the Air Force’s “mother of all bombs” came from commanders in Afghanistan, not from Washington, D.C. The decision was part of the overall goal to beat ISIS-Khorasan this year, Nicholson said. The Afghan Ministry of Defense said late April 13 that 36 ISIS fighters were killed in the strike, with no civilian casualties reported. Nicholson said US forces are on the ground and have so far not seen evidence of civilian casualties. US Central Command on Friday released a video of the strike, showing a hillside completely destroyed in the massive blast. Nicholson said ISIS had built a large tunnel complex at the site, which was protected by improvised explosive devices. US and Afghan forces had not made progress in getting to the site, and a US special forces soldier—Army SSgt. Mark De Alencar—was killed in a fight with ISIS near the complex. The site was an “extensive obstacle” to progress, and the MOAB was the right weapon to take out the complex.