Winning the War in Afghanistan at $50 Million per Kill

by NICHOLAS C. ARGUIMBAU

Michael Nasuti of Kabul Press recently published an article in which he calculated that killing each Taliban soldier in Afghanistan costs on average of $50 million to the US. The article, seemingly carefully. researched with all assumptions laid out so that anyone can examine them, is well worth reading. Nasuti, "Killing Each Taliban Soldier Costs $50 million." He points out that at this rate, killing the entire Taliban forces (only 35,000) would cost $1.7 trillion, not a small amount for a country suffering from a severe economic downturn to spend on a war with no apparent purpose. And Nasuti’s number, of course, assumes that they coud not be replaced faster than they are killed, but it appears that they can, easily.

Nasuti, who actually uses a "conservative" number (assuming that he has undercounted the number of Taliban casualties by one half), states that he had previously served "at a senior level" in the United States Air Force. He says,

The reason for these exorbitant costs is that United States has the world’s most mechanized, computerized, weaponized and synchronized military, not to mention the most pampered (at least at Forward Operating Bases). An estimated 150,000 civilian contractors support, protect, feed and cater to the American personnel in Afghanistan . . . The ponderous American war machine is a logistics nightmare and a maintenance train wreck.
He concludes:

The Taliban’s best ally within the United States may be the Pentagon, whose contempt for fiscal responsibility and accountability may force a premature U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as the Americans cannot continue to fund these Pentagon excesses.

But Nasuti’s cost estimates are only the beginning. Afghanistan had until recently the highest fertility rate in the world (7.5. now down to 7.1) and its population doubles roughly every 20 years even under the stress of war.. At a current population of 34 million, gaining by 800,000/yr, it can lose in order of magnnitude 400,000 men per year more than it is presently losing to war without net population loss. That, using Nasuti’s figures, would be at a cost to the US of $20 trillion/yr. to stay even , when we have a GDP of about $12 trillion. And there is no apparent reason why the Taliban could not go on in perpetuity suffering losses of 2000/yr (Nasuti’s estimate of the true numbers), or many times that, because 2000 is only approximately half of one percent of the numbers of available men each year without population loss.

Of course, all that is assuming that the Taliban can recruit within Afghanistan as its men are lost. Clearly at least the numbers are there, however, because of Afghanistan’s extraordinary rate of population growth.

In the understatement of the year, Mr. Nasuti suggests, "A public discussion should be taking place in the United States regarding whether the Taliban have become too expensive an enemy to defeat."

Any bets on whether we’ll win this one (assuming anyone can explain what "winning this one" means) without changing our strategy?

NICHOLAS C. ARGUIMBAU is an attorney presently residing in Massachusetts, licensed in California, USA.

 

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Lawrence Ware
No Refuge: the Specter of White Supremacy Still Haunts Black America
Paul Street
Bi-Polar Disorder: Obama’s Bait-and-Switch Environmental Politics
Vijay Prashad
Regime Change Refugees: On the Shores of Europe
Kali Akuno
Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era
Arun Gupta
Field Notes to Life During the Apocalypse
Steve Hendricks
Come Again? Second Thoughts on My Ashley Madison Affair
Paul Craig Roberts
Whither the Economy?
Ron Jacobs
Bernie Sanders’ Vision: As Myopic as Every Other Candidate or Not?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and Crisis
Jeffrey St. Clair
Arkansas Bloodsuckers: the Clintons, Prisoners and the Blood Trade
Richard W. Behan
Republican Fail, Advantage Sanders: the Indefensible Budget for Defense
Ted Rall
Call It By Its Name: Censorship
Susan Babbitt
“Swarms” Entering the UK? What We Can Still Learn About the Migrant Crisis From Che Guevara
Andrew Levine
Compassionate Conservatism: a Reconsideration and an Appreciation
John Wight
Adrift Without Sanctuary: a Sick and Twisted Morality
Binoy Kampmark
Sieges in an Age of Austerity: Monitoring Julian Assange
Colin Todhunter
Europe’s Refugee Crisis and the Depraved Morality of David Cameron
JP Sottile
Chinese Military Parade Freak-Out
Kathleen Wallace
The Child Has a Name, They All Do
David Rosen
Why So Few Riots?
Norm Kent
The Rent Boy Raid: Homeland Security Should Monitor Our Borders Not Our Bedrooms
Michael Welton
Canada’s Arrogant Autocrat: the Rogue Politics of Stephen Harper
Patrick T. Hiller
There’s Nothing Collateral About a Toddler Washed Ashore
Ramzy Baroud
Palestine’s Crisis of Leadership: Did Abbas Destroy Palestinian Democracy?
Jim Connolly
Sniping at the Sandernistas: Left Perfectionism in the Belly of the Beast
Pepe Escobar
Say Hello to China’s New Toys
Sylvia C. Frain
Tiny Guam, Huge US Marine Base Expansions
Pete Dolack
Turning National Parks into Corporate Profit Centers
Ann Garrison
Africa’s Problem From Hell: Samantha Power
Dan Glazebrook
British Home Secretary Theresa May: Savior or Slaughterer of Black People?
Christopher Brauchli
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Citigroup
Norman Pollack
Paradigm of a Fascist Mindset: Nicholas Burns on Iran
Barry Lando
Standing at the Bar of History: Could the i-Phone Really Have Prevented the Holocaust?
Linn Washington Jr.
Critics of BlackLivesMatter# Practice Defiant Denial
Roger Annis
Canada’s Web of Lies Over Syrian Refugee Crisis
Chris Zinda
Constitutional Crisis in the Heart of Dixie
Rannie Amiri
Everything Stinks: Beirut Protests and Garbage Politics
Graham Peebles
Criminalizing Refugees
Missy Comley Beattie
In Order To Breathe
James McEnteer
Blast From the Past in Buenos Aires
Patrick Higgins
A Response to the “Cruise Missile Left”
Tom H. Hastings
Too Broke to Pay Attention
Edward Leer
Love, Betrayal, and Donuts
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo