That’s the base price American taxpayers shelled out for each of the reported 36 ISIS-affiliated fighters killed in Afghanistan yesterday when U.S. forces dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” — a $16 million piece of ordinance — on a cave and tunnel complex near the Pakistan border.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the American military arsenal. It was designed for use in the second Iraq war but hadn’t been used in combat until yesterday.
What else might that $16 million buy?
For starters, how about 64 full four-year rides to Harvard, based on that university’s $63,000 annual room, board, and tuition? Or, if you set your higher education sights a little lower, that would be full four-year rides for 653 students at my public university in Michigan.
What that $16 million didn’t buy, however, is any clear U.S. strategy in Afghanistan:
Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Pentagon was being given leeway to carry out strategy without being told what, exactly, the overarching strategy is. “What they haven’t been given is a lot of strategic guidance to work with,” he said. “They can affect things, but without a guiding strategy, it’s hard to be sure you’re having the desired effect.”
Meanwhile, on the question of what this means for strategy in Afghanistan, or even if dropping a MOAB was intended to send a message to anyone else, like North Korea, it’s unclear whether President Trump authorized the use of this weapon or even knew about it ahead of time.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to say whether the president had been in the Situation Room when the bomb was dropped, and the president himself was even more vague than usual, saying in response to a direct question, “Everybody knows exactly what happened. What I do is authorize the military.”
Watch the video below and revel in money well spent.