In The Wall Street Journal, Ben Kesling writes that the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Burst (MOAB) was built partially as a psychological deterrent for America’s enemies. Just knowing the massive munition exists was enough to rattle America’s enemies in Iraq in 2003.
“There is a psychological component to all aspects of warfare,” Donald Rumsfeld, then-secretary of Defense, said when asked by reporters about the weapon just days before the start of the war. “The goal is to not have a war.”
When asked about the size of the weapon he replied: “This is not small.”
The next day, the Iraqi ambassador to Russia, Abbas Khalaf Kunfuth, publicly criticized Mr. Rumsfeld.
“You will certainly have heard the U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld…praising a new bomb called the mother of all bombs,” the ambassador said. “And he was not ashamed to speak about it, to threaten a small country such as Iraq and displaying his nature of an American cowboy who knows no limits and has no morals.”
The U.S. never dropped the MOAB during the ensuing conflict. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks told reporters soon after the launch of the war tactical considerations dictate the use of weapons, and no appropriate situation had arisen.
The weapon made its combat debut Thursday in eastern Afghanistan, becoming the largest nonnuclear bomb ever used on the enemy by U.S. forces, according to Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman. The largest nonnuclear bomb in the arsenal has yet to be used in combat.
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