Generals in Afghanistan, not President Trump or the Pentagon, made the call to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat Thursday, according to reports.
In a briefing with reporters in Kabul on Friday, Gen. John "Mick" Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, told reporters the "chain of command allowed me the latitude to make assessments on the ground" to use the GBU-43/B, the Massive Ordnance Air blast, commonly referred to as "the mother of all bombs," according to the Washington Post.
Trump on Thursday declined to answer a direct question from a reporter as to whether he ordered the strike.
"Everybody knows exactly what happened. What I do, I authorized my military," he said. "We have given them total authorization. That's what they're doing."
A spokesman for U.S. Central Command said Nicholson requested permission from Gen. Joseph Votel to deploy the bomb, according to a report.
"It's empowering the commanders and winning the war against the bad guys," the spokesman said. "In this administration, the military is given empowerment to do what we need to do."
The use of the bomb, which marked the first time it had been used in combat, was part of the effort to defeat the Islamic State-Khorasan group in Afghanistan by the end of this year, Nicholson said.
"Let me be clear: We will not relent in our mission to destroy ISIS-K in 2017," Nicholson said during a conference at 2:30 p.m. Afghanistan time, according to the command's official Twitter feed.
The Afghan military reported that the strike in Nangarhar province near the Pakistan border killed 36 ISIS-K fighters and destroyed tunnels. Nicholson said there was no evidence or reports of civilian casualties in the remote area where U.S. and Afghan forces have been fighting the group since early March.
"This was the right weapon for the right target," Nicholson said.
The Islamic State fighters were using a network of tunnels and minefields to move around the battlefield and for protection against the U.S. and Afghan forces. A U.S. special operations soldier was killed in the fighting over the weekend.
Despite the bombing, the U.S. goal of defeating the group this year could be challenging.
The Khorasan affiliate has emerged over the past few years in Afghanistan, where the U.S. fight against the Taliban and its effort to build a stable government has often been called a stalemate.
The war was the longest American military conflict in history when combat operations were officially declared over by the Obama administration in 2014.