U.S. military action in Afghanistan stirs criticism. concern over military race

Zhang Tao

BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. military in Afghanistan on Thursday dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat by the force to strike an Islamic State target, sparking different responses from various sides.

This is the first time that the U.S. military used in combat a GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, nicknamed "the mother of all bombs."

U.S. President Donald Trump, who gave the order for dropping the MOAB on an IS cave complex in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan, labeled the event a "success," saying he was "very, very proud of the military."

The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the area "while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities," the Pentagon said in a statement.

ISIS-K refers to ISIS-Khorasan, the terror group's affiliate in Afghanistan.

John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a written statement that the IS has been using improvised explosive devices, bunkers and tunnels to strengthen its defenses. "This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K."

The bomb, weighing about 9.5 tons, is designed to take out deeply buried targets like reinforced bunkers, and can unleash 11 tons of explosives. When it was developed in the early 2000s, the Pentagon did a formal review of legal justification for its combat use.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said: "The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did."


However, Trump's decision has already been questioned by political opponents, and the military effect on Afghan war is doubted by many.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said on Thursday the president needs to explain why the U.S. military dropped in Afghanistan its largest non-nuclear bomb, which had never been used in combat before.

"I don't know if the use of MOAB is wise or not," Schatz wrote in a Twitter post. "But the Commander-in-Chief or his people should explain what they did and why."

Douglas Macgregor, a retired army colonel and veteran who led armored cavalry in Operation Desert Storm, said: "Strategically, the strike had no impact on the war in Afghanistan where 40,000 Taliban fighters are regaining the ground lost over the last few years and crushing the U.S. trained - and - equipped Afghan army and police."

"The strike is not meaningful in any strategic sense. The only conclusion any reasonable military analyst can reach is that the president is badly advised," he said.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned on Thursday the U.S. decision, writing in a Twitter message: "I vehemently and in strongest words condemn the dropping of the latest weapon, the largest non-nuclear bomb, on Afghanistan by U.S. military."

"This is not the War on Terror, but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons," he said. "It is upon us, Afghans, to stop the U.S.."

Igor Morozov, member of the Russian Federation Council's foreign affairs committee, told Sputnik on Thursday the use of a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb by the United States in Afghanistan threatens to incite a new arms race.

"The U.S. test of the new bomb in Afghanistan is an attempt to establish the world dominance with an element of a military threat which may initiate a new round of arms race and increase tension in the world," Morozov said.

Morozov suggested Russia initiate a discussion about the recent U.S. test at the UN Security Council.


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