The U.S. military’s dropping of its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS positions in Afghanistan last week was the correct action to take, said U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who was in the Middle East at the time of the strike.
“Gen. John Nicholson made the decision tactically that was the best ammunition to utilize,” Stefanik said in a telephone interview on Monday about a congressional delegation she led to the Middle East last week.
Stefanik said she learned about the attack the next day.
“I learned about it on the news as I was in Kuwait,” she said.
Stefanik and the delegation of House Defense Committee members had met Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the previous day.
Nicholson did not inform them of the pending attack, but briefed them on the challenges of terrorists operating from underground tunnels and caves in the eastern section of Afghanistan.
“We were not given any specific information about the MOAB,” Stefanik said, referring to the acronym for the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb.
The GPS-guided bomb is also commonly known as the “Mother of All Bombs.”
Stefanik said rank-and-file military personnel she spoke with after the strike seemed supportive of it.
“Much of the discussion was the fact that there are over 20 organizations who were making inroads in that region of Afghanistan, and Afghan forces are continuing to work to take back those regions,” she said. “It’s of concern to me that Afghanistan is still the country with the highest number of terrorist organizations around the world. And I believe that it is our role — to continue to work with the Afghans in a support and advise and assist role.”
Stefanik led the delegation in her new role as chairwoman of the House Defense Committee Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
Reps. Tom Suozzi, D-Long Island, Anthony Brown, D-Md., and Keith Roffus, R-Pa., were also part of the delegation.
“I thought it was an important opportunity for some of the newer members who are on my subcommittee to get an assessment of what is happening on the ground,” she said.
The six-day trip included visits to three regions of Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan.
In Kuwait, the delegation met with the Marine Corps unit focused on countering terrorism in Iraq and Syria, Stefanik said.
They also visited U.S. military units in various locations of the four countries.
“I had the opportunity to visit and have lunches and dinners with numerous constituents from South Glens Falls, from Saratoga, from Saranac Lake, from Massena, from all over the district,” she said. “One of the biggest takeaways is the professionalism and the extensive service and sense of mission of the men and women in uniform.”