Florida's National Guard leader: Non-nuclear bomb was 'legitimate to use'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the battle against ISIS, the United States dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever in combat Thursday.

President Donald Trump declined to say whether he personally signed off on the use of the GBU-43/B MOAB, also known as the "mother of all bombs," in a strike on ISIS militants in Afghanistan.

The man who led all of Florida's National Guard said he agrees with the tactic.

"I think it was a legitimate weapon to use, in this case," retired Maj. Gen. Emmet Titshaw said.

Titshaw spent almost 45 years serving in the Air Force, including assignments at the Pentagon. He pointed out the weapon was developed in 2003 and first tested out of Elgin Air Force Base in Florida.

"The concept for it was a weapon to be used in a place like Afghanistan -- a place where cave and tunnel systems were used by the enemy to hide and to evade," Titshaw said.

While the president wouldn't take credit for the decision to use MOAB, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan did sign off on the attack.

"We are so proud of our military," Trump said. "It was another successful event."

The nearly 22,000-pound MOAB weapon targeted ISIS forces in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

"The GBU-43 is a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. "We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area."

Titshaw said he believes the decision raises morale for the 8,400 troops remaining in Afghanistan, and may have another consequence.

"It would probably do a significant job for you in killing and wounding the enemy without loss of life on the coalition side," Titshaw said. "The strategic thinking may also have been to send a message to North Korea, which may be about to detonate a nuclear weapon."

Going hard after ISIS was a clear talking point for Trump.

At one point, he said, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me. I would bomb the (expletive) out of them."

Trump has granted military commanders broader latitude to act independently on several battlefields where U.S. forces are involved.

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