President Trump called last month’s unprecedented MOAB strike on Afghanistan “another very, very successful mission,” an assertion echoed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who called the attack “necessary to break Isis.” The government backed up the assertion with claims from Afghan officials that the bomb killed 94 ISIS fighter and no civilians, while damaging infrastructure as far as two miles away.
Alcis conducted and in-depth suvey of satellite imagery, ground footage, and 3D visualizations of the area around the bomb site in Nangarhar province. The results show damage extending less than one-tenth of a mile, destroying 38 buildings and 69 trees.
As for the number of fatalities, Brittan is flummoxed. “I’m staggered by that,” he said. “I simply don’t understand where they can get that number from.”
Officials in Afghanistan claim to have recovered 94 bodies from the rubble, but that has yet to be verified because the U.S. is preventing assessors from entering the bomb site.
Captain William Salvin, a U.S. military spokesman told The Guardian that because the region is still too dangerous, “we have not been able to go in and do that assessment, and we’re probably not going to.” Besides, Salvin added, the military has “better things to do with our time.”
Alcis sees an accurate assessment as a very important use of time, especially with what he calls an “anomalous” contention of no civilian casualties.
“It’s the only place to be if you want to tend to those fields,” Brittan said, pointing out that the strike occurred within a month of the harvest. “It is entirely possible that working-age male farmers could be counted as militants.”
Captain Salvin, however, insists that, “People are not shy about reporting civilian casualties in the country. And there have been no such reports.”
As speculation continues to mount, so too do questions about why the MOAB — the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal — was used to begin with. If the area remains too dangerous for government and U.S. assessors to enter, many wonder how effective the attack could possibly have been. Brittan contends that winning in Afghanistan with this approach would require hundreds of similar strikes to gain tactical advantage.
“If their approach is that they are going to level this valley with all its settlements, then MOABs galore,” he said. “But getting people back to making a living off the land is what you’ve got to focus on.”
As independent analysts continue to search the truth, lets hope the Trump regime does not consider “MOABs galore” to actually be a viable strategy.
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Sheila Norton is a writer with ten years of Capitol Hill experience. Subscribe to the OD Action email to get all the hottest news delivered right to your inbox every day at www.odaction.com