The United States dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan today (April 13), a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “mother of all bombs.”


U.S. officials say it was the first time this particular weapon has been used in battle. The target was a cave and tunnel complex where ISIS personnel were operating. No word of damage done by the bomb has been released.


Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Dave Lewis is the director of the Strategic Studies graduate program at Texas Tech University. He teaches courses in strategy, intelligence, terrorism, counterinsurgency, national security, public sector strategy and Homeland Security. He was a career military officer with extensive operational and staff experience, and he served as a professor of strategy at the United States Naval War College after earning his master’s degree with distinction in national security and strategic studies there. He can speak about military strategy and terrorism.



Col. Dave Lewis, director of strategic studies graduate program, (806) 787-9730 or [email protected]


Talking points

  • This is not the first MOAB bomb in our inventory that has been detonated. The BLU-82/B “Daisycutter” was dropped 11 times in Operation Desert Storm, but it is different than the GBU-43/B that was dropped today. The GBU is precision-guided and designed only to produce blast effects. The BLU is older technology, unguided and designed to use fragments to cut down trees to make helicopter landing zones. The BLU-82/B was originally used as a jungle penetrator for landing zones in Vietnam.
  • Today’s MOAB was designed to use blast “overpressure” waves against soft targets, making it useful against personnel, including the psychological effects from the massive explosion. It is dropped from a transport aircraft, in this case a Special Operations MC-130, and uses GPS for guidance to its target.



  • “The use of the GBU-43/B is intended to send a strong message to adversaries and potential adversaries that the United States is willing to commit significant technology and resources to counter an enemy’s unconventional tactics.”
  • “The reported location for this air-dropped weapon would be specifically chosen to target insurgents, as non-combatant civilian populations would have no reason to operate in the cave structure of Afghanistan.”


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