By now the world has learned that for the first time in military history, the United States military deployed the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) or by its nickname, the “Mother of all Bombs” during an airstrike on an ISIS underground facility in Afghanistan.
Early reports indicate that the strike was mostly a success.
The official word out of the Pentagon today is that 36 Islamic State group fighters died in the blast. Afghan officials have said there were no civilian casualties.
The Nangarhar province is a remote area in eastern Afghanistan. The Islamic State has used the desolate mountainous area to stage ambushes and to hide fighters moving across the border with Pakistan. The are is riddled with caves and tunnels where the insurgents hide. Some of the tunnels are believed to be close to 50 yards deep into the mountain.
Gen. Daulat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense, said the 11 ton blast destroyed several caves and ammunition caches.
Now that we know what the bomb did, we can look at exactly how a conventional explosive bomb actually accomplishes its mission. According to a report by the Daily Mail:
In the milliseconds following the initial blast in Afghanistan, all the oxygen would have been forced out of the tunnels and for hundreds of feet around, literally sucking the life out of ISIS terrorists, suffocating them as their lungs imploded.
Then, in a flash the fiery shockwave would have radiated outwards at the speed of sound for up to a mile, causing huge blunt force trauma injuries to anyone caught in its path, leveling buildings and trees.
Ears would have been left bleeding and internal organs battered by the sheer force of the shockwave.
The blast would also have caused many within two miles of the blast to lose their hearing.
Anyone caught inside the tunnels would have been crushed as the force of 19,000 pounds of highly complex explosives caused them to collapse on top of the ISIS terrorists.
To put it in a more understandable perspective, we can use Nuke Maps, a tool that uses Google Maps to show the blast radius for various explosions. This is what the MOAB damage radius would look like if it was dropped into Manhattan, an area that many people can visualize:
Here is video released by US Central Command of the airstrike: