Saturday, April 15, 2017
MOAB - Less and More Than Meets the Eye
A grand furore ensued following the use of a U.S. mega-bomb called MOAB against what was said to be an ISIS gathering point in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. MOAB, an acronym for Mother of All Bombs/Massive Ordinance Air Blast, is really just a huge firecracker with a twist.
MOAB is thermobaric. Think of it as "blast plus." These weapons don't carry their own oxidizer. They're all explosive, often very fine aluminum dust particles, that disperse into a cloud where they mix with oxygen. Then they explode, creating a massive overpressurization capable of killing within a one mile radius. The wicked part is what happens next. The bomb creates a powerful vacuum that tends to draw innards out. No point getting into the minutiae of that.
The US military has used MOAB exactly once. Because of the state of the corpses you don't want to use it where photographers might show up. Another problem is the delivery system. MOAB is dropped out of the cargo bay of a C-130 Hercules transport. You don't want to go trolling a C-130 anywhere there might be hostile fighters or surface to air batteries. You don't want your MOAB and your Hercules finding terra firma at the same time.
It's now estimated that Trump's MOAB killed 94 ISIS fighters. That's the story anyway. Hard to have much sympathy for ISIS types. But maybe ISIS wasn't the real target.
MOAB might have been intended to deliver a message to Pyongyang and Beijing that Trump won't hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction, next time perhaps nuclear. It was also a big hit with America's "red meat" brigade.
There are concerns that Trump has taken America to a "near-nuclear" threshold just in time for Easter. Meanwhile peace talks are underway today, Good Friday, in Moscow. Everybody who's anybody is there, including the Taliban. Well, not quite everybody. The United States wasn't invited nor any of the NATO/ISAF partners. That leaves just the Talibs, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Pakistan, four of the other "stans," China and Russia sitting at the table.