Monday, September 28, 2009

The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11

In the September 28, 2009 Congressional Research Service report "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11 ," Amy Belasco, a specialist in U.S. defense policy and budget issues, says the U.S. has already spent about $1 trillion on new military operations since 2001. The summary of the reports says:
With enactment of the FY2009 Supplemental (H.R. 2346/P.L. 111-32) on June 24, 2009,
Congress has approved a total of about $944 billion for military operations, base security,
reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations
initiated since the 9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other
counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military
bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Congress is currently considering the FY2010 War
request that was submitted to Congress along with DOD’s baseline request. The House passed its
bill on July 30, 2009 (H.R. 3326) and the Senate is expected to act on its version in late
September 2009. This $944 billion total covers all appropriations approved by Congress for
FY2001 to meet war needs through FY2009, the current fiscal year ending September 30, 2009.
Of that total, CRS estimates that Iraq will receive about $683 billion (72%), OEF about $227
billion (24%) and enhanced base security about $29 billion (3%), with about $5 billion that CRS
cannot allocate (1%). About 94% of the funds are for DOD, 5% for foreign aid programs and
embassy operations, and less than 1% for medical care for veterans.

As of July 2009, DOD’s average monthly obligations for contracts and pay were about $10.9
billion, including $7.3 billion for Iraq, and $3.6 billion for Afghanistan. Compared to a year ago
when the surge ended but troop levels remained high, average obligations have fallen by about
12%. Decreases in costs as troops are withdrawn from Iraq have been largely offset by increases
in costs for additional troops for Afghanistan.

The FY2010 war request totals $139 billion including $130 billion for DOD for both wars, $6.4
billion for the State Department’s foreign and diplomatic operations, and $2.1 billion for VA
medical costs for OEF and OIF veterans. Overall war funding is decreasing from the peak of
$185 billion in FY2008 during the surge in Iraq to $150 billion in FY2009. This decline reflects
primarily lower war-related procurement as DOD’s returned to a narrower, more traditional
definition of war-related costs, rather than lower troop levels since increases for Afghanistan
offset decreases for Iraq. Based on the current request, the cost of the Afghan and Iraq wars
would fall by another 8% in FY2010, a decrease that is less than the currently planned 19%
decrease in overall troop levels.

If the Administration’s FY2010 war request is enacted, total war-related funding would reach
$1.08 trillion, including $748 billion for Iraq, $300 billion for Afghanistan, $29 billion for
enhanced security, and $5 billion that cannot be allocated. Of this cumulative total, 69% would be
for Iraq, 28% for Afghanistan, and 3% for enhanced security. On August 30, 2009, General
Stanley McChrystal, Commander in Afghanistan, submitted a strategic assessment and a request
for additional troops was reportedly given to Secretary of Defense Gates on September 26 , 2009.
That request is unlikely to be vetted either within DOD and the Administration until additional
ongoing White House reviews of the strategy are completed.

In a January 2009 update, the Congressional Budget Office projected that additional war costs for
FY2010-FY2019 could range from $388 billion, if troop levels fell to 30,000 by 2011, to $867
billion, if troop levels fell to 75,000 by about 2013. Under these CBO projections, funding for
Iraq, Afghanistan and the GWOT could total about $1.3 trillion to about $1.8 trillion for FY2001-
FY2019 depending on the scenario.

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