Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cost Of Afghan, Iraq Wars Could Top $549B This Year

The total cost of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan could reach $549 billion this year, a report to Congress concludes.
By Drew Brown
Miami Herald
September 28, 2006

WASHINGTON - The total cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and enhanced security at military bases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks could reach $549 billion this year, a new report to Congress concludes.

The projection by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service is based on an update in July from the White House Office of Management and Budget, which estimated that war costs will total $110 billion for fiscal year 2007, which begins Sunday.

In fiscal year 2005, the Pentagon spent an average of $6.4 billion a month in Iraq and $1.3 billion a month in Afghanistan. During fiscal year 2006, it's projected those costs will have increased to about $8 billion a month in Iraq and $1.5 billion per month in Afghanistan.

''Everybody expects that troops will come home and that next year will be cheaper, but it just never happens that way,'' said Winslow Wheeler, the director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information, a policy-research group in Washington.

The report says war costs are expected to continue to grow in the next decade.

Even if U.S. forces were reduced from 258,000 today in Iraq, Afghanistan and other military operations worldwide related to the war on terrorism to 74,000 by 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that war costs still would grow by $371 billion from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2016.

Given the amount already spent, total war funding could reach $808 billion by 2016, according to the Congressional Research Service report to Congress.

But the true figure may prove to be higher, if current trends hold. The Pentagon had hoped to reduce its troop presence in Iraq to fewer than 100,000 by the end of this year, but the military plans to keep at least 140,000 troops there through the spring because of the high level of violence.

Congress has appropriated $437 billion so far for the war efforts, according to the Congressional Research Service.

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