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US war costs since September 11 exceed $500bn
Thursday September 28, 2006
According to the Globe, the report estimated that once Congress approved two pending bills on military spending, total war costs since the September 11 2001 attacks would have exceeded $500bn, of which $379bn had been spent on Iraq, $97bn in Afghanistan and $26bn on improving the security of US military bases elsewhere. The costs had increased despite a levelling off of US troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the report, the extra money was being used in part because of a greater intensity of attacks on American forces, the Boston Globe said.
Another significant factor was “the building of more extensive infrastructure to support troops and equipment in and around Iraq and Afghanistan”, the report said.
Although the US military has said it does not want to maintain a long-term presence in either country, it is building semi-permanent bases to support troops, suggesting a recognition that the deployments might be long ones.
The spending was bumped up further by the need to buy extra equipment for troops – ranging from radios to tanks – and to replace equipment damaged in attacks or by wear and tear, officially known as “reset” costs. These costs had jumped from $7.2bn in 2004 to $22.9bn this year, while infrastructure costs – for example bases and airfields – were up from $40bn to $60bn.
However, the report noted that these factors alone were “not enough to explain” the total increase in operating costs.
“You would expect (operating costs) to level off if you have the same level of people,” the report’s principal author, Amy Belasco, was quoted as saying by the Boston Globe.
“You shouldn’t have as much cost to fix buildings that were presumably repaired when you got there. It’s a bit mysterious.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, war costs were expected to be a significant drain on the US budget in the next decade – the Congressional Research Service estimated that even with fewer troops deployed, total war funding could reach $808bn by 2016.