WASHINGTON Jan 26 The cost to U.S. taxpayers
of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 has topped $1
trillion, and President Barack Obama is expected to request
another $33 billion to fund more U.S. troops this year.
About two-thirds of the money has been spent on the
conflict in Iraq since 2003. This year is the first in which
more funds are being spent in Afghanistan than Iraq, as the
pace of U.S. military operations slows in Iraq and quickens in
HOW MUCH HAS BEEN SPENT ALREADY?
Congress has approved $1.075 trillion dollars for military
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and "war-related activities"
since 2001, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget
Office. It included the costs in its budget outlook Tuesday.
The war expense topped $1 trillion in December 2009, when
U.S. lawmakers approved the fiscal 2010 defense spending bill
that included about $130 billion to be spent on the two
conflicts through Sept. 30, 2010.
The $1.075 trillion tally includes $51 billion for
diplomatic activities and aid to Iraq, Afghanistan and various
other countries that are assisting the United States in
fighting terrorism, CBO said.
HOW MUCH WENT FOR IRAQ AND HOW MUCH FOR AFGHANISTAN?
The lion's share of the spending -- $708 billion -- has
been allocated to the war in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion
there in 2003, according to CBO. Former President George Bush
launched the Iraq war in a search for weapons of mass
destruction, which never were found.
CBO said $345 billion has gone to Afghanistan, where the
United States invaded to fight al Qaeda and topple the Taliban
after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. About $22 billion went for
war-related activities in other countries, it said.
The current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is the first
year that more money has been allocated to Afghanistan ($72.3
billion) than Iraq ($64.5 billion), according to the National
Priorities Project, a nonpartisan budget research group that
has a running tally of the wars' costs on its Website.
The group included some U.S. homeland security spending in
those 2010 cost tallies. It examines congressional
appropriations, while CBO has access to additional sources,
including Pentagon spending reports.
HOW MUCH MORE WILL THESE OPERATIONS COST?
Obama announced in December he was adding 30,000 more U.S.
troops to the Afghan war effort to join the 68,000 already
fighting a resurgent Taliban. Defense officials say he will
shortly ask Congress for $33 billion to pay for the cost of the
troop surge in fiscal 2010.
Future expenses are a question mark, partly because troop
levels are uncertain. Obama says he wants to start withdrawing
forces from Afghanistan in mid-2011, but that will depend, in
part, on conditions on the ground. No departure deadline has
Estimates of the cost per troop per year in Afghanistan
vary from $500,000 to $1 million depending on whether
expenditures on troop housing and equipment are included along
with pay, food and fuel. Medical costs for the injured and
veterans' compensation balloon as time goes on.
In Iraq, the U.S. force is supposed to fall to 50,000 by
the end of August, from some 115,000 last month. The 50,000 can
remain until the end of 2011, under an agreement with Baghdad.
A year ago CBO projected that additional costs for the Iraq
and Afghanistan conflicts could be $867 billion over the next
decade, if combined troop levels fall to 75,000 by about 2013.
WHY ARE SOME COSTS GROWING?
One expanding line item is the money being spent on on
Iraq's and Afghanistan's troops. CBO said the United States has
spent $49 billion to date on training and equipping military
and police units in the two countries.
"That number may get larger in the future because it is
central to our exit strategy, which is preparing Afghanistan to
take over security so we can leave," said Christopher Hellman,
research director for the National Priorities Project.
Obama is preparing to ask Congress next week for $11.6
billion more to train the Afghan security forces in 2011, draft
Pentagon budget documents say.
WHAT ARE THE POLITICAL RISKS?
Obama's Democratic Party has the majority in Congress but
is divided over the wisdom of continuing the Afghan war. This
means he needs Republicans to get congressional approval of the
next tranche of funds sometime this spring.
He is expected to get that approval, in part because many
lawmakers who don't approve of sending more combat troops are
loath to cut off funds to soldiers in the field.
But with Americans tiring of war and getting more concerned
about U.S. indebtedness, political pressures are expected to
grow for winding down U.S. military operations and their costs
in Iraq and Afghanistan.