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Iraq Afghan Wars Cost 439 Billion So Far

Point duty on the money pit.
by Pamela Hess
UPI Pentagon Correspondent
Washington (UPI) May 05, 2006
A new report from the Congressional Research Service puts the cost of the global war on terrorism at least at $368 billion -- not counting the requests now before Congress.

If the roughly $70 billion 2006 emergency supplemental request and the $50 billion in "bridge funding" placed in the FY-2007 defense budget request are factored in, the total cost of the wars since Sept. 11, 2001 reaches $439 billion.

Even that figure -- the total for the wars and reconstruction in Afghanistan, Iraq and the homeland military base security mission known as Operation Noble Eagle, along with embassy costs -- is not necessarily the true price tag, according to the April 24 CRS report. The Pentagon has not given Congress data on how the money is spent, offering instead vague calculations of monthly "burn rates."

"DOD has not provided Congress with the costs of these three operations," states the report. "Although DOD has a financial system that tracks funds for each operation once they are obligated -- as pay or contractual costs -- DOD has not sent Congress the (required) semiannual reports with cumulative and current obligations for (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and (Operation Enduring Freedom), or estimates for the next year, or for the next five years that are required by statute."

If Congress approves the 2006 supplemental -- something that could happen Wednesday -- the Iraq war cost will rise to an estimated $320 billion; the Afghan war, $89 billion, and $26 billion for Operation Noble Eagle.

The financial costs of war are rising annually. In fiscal year 2004, the Defense Department spent $73 billion on these three accounts. In 2005, the total was $102 billion. In 2006, that number is likely to reach $120 billion, if the spending bills now before Congress are approved as expected.

The largest jump -- and one the CRS cannot explain -- is in the operations and maintenance spending account. In FY-2004, the Pentagon spent roughly $43 billion on OandM across the three operations.

In 2006, that account is expected to jump to $64 billion, but there has been no appreciable increase in the number of troops or their operations tempo. Some of the increase can be attributed to the jump in oil prices and the purchase of body armor for all deployed troops, as well as the cost of training Iraqi and Afghan troops.

"These factors, however, are not enough to explain a 50 percent increase of over $20 billion in operating costs," the report states.

Similarly, procurement spending is going up as well, and the CRS cannot account for the dramatic increase. In 2004, the Pentagon spent $7.2 billion procuring weaponry. In 2005 that jumped to $20.9 billion, and in 2006 it will go up to $24.3 billion.

Some of those increases can be attributed to a push to buy armored Humvees and to help the Army and Marine Corps rapidly restructure themselves to better fight the war. But again, that rationale does not account for all of the increase, according to the report.

"DOD has provided little information about overall requirements to replace worn equipment or to upgrade capabilities, or how war requirements relate to ongoing peacetime investment."

The Defense Department spends on average $6.4 billion a month in Iraq; $1.3 billion a month on Afghanistan and $180 million a month on Noble Eagle, which includes periodic "combat air patrols" over cities to deter future air attacks, according to CRS.

The Congressional Budget Office has priced the cost of leaving some 75,000 U.S. troops in Iraq between 2007 and 2016 at another $317 billion, bringing the projected total cost of the U.S. war and reconstruction mission to $811 billion.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Congressional Research Service

Smiths Detection Awarded Contract Option For The US JCAD Program
Edgewood MD (SPX) May 05, 2006
Smiths Detection announced its Military unit has been awarded seven contract options within the Joint Chemical Agent Detector program. Smiths Detection is supplying its Lightweight Chemical Detectors (LCD) to the JCAD program for testing.

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