As originally conceived, the MOAB was to be used against large formations of troops and equipment or hardened above-ground bunkers. The target set has also been expanded to include targets buried under softer surfaces, like caves or tunnels.
But while the MOAB bomb detonates with the power of 18,000 pounds of tritonal explosives, the size of its explosion pales in comparison to that of a nuclear bomb.
Former Defense Secretary William Perry described the stark difference in power between a MOAB and nuclear bomb.
“The #MOAB explosive yield is 0.011 kilotons, typical nuclear yield is 10-180 kilotons – the US alone possesses over 7000 nuclear weapons,” he tweeted.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Nicholson said in a statement following the strike.
“This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” Nicholson added.
“US forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. US Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan,” read the statement from US Forces Afghanistan.
The extent of the damage and whether anyone was killed is not yet clear. The military is currently conducting an assessment.
The Pentagon is currently reviewing whether to deploy additional trainers to Afghanistan to help bolster US allies there.
The Achin district is the primary center of ISIS activity in Afghanistan. A US Army Special Forces soldier was killed fighting the terror group there Saturday.
There are about 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan and they regularly perform counterterrorism operations against ISIS in the Nangarhar Province.
The US counterterrorism mission is separate from the NATO-led effort to train, advise and assist the Afghan army and police force.
While ISIS is identified primarily with its presence in Iraq and Syria, US and coalition officials have long expressed concern about a growing presence in Afghanistan.
ISIS first emerged in the summer of 2015 in the country’s east, fast gaining ground and support, often among disaffected Taliban or Afghan youth.