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Iraq, the Blank Check War

by WINSLOW T. WHEELER

The fourth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq (March 20) occurs just as Congressional Research Service is reporting on the cost of operations there and in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Thus far, Congress has appropriated $510 billion for DOD and other costs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and “Operation Noble Eagle” for enhanced base security internationally and some domestic US costs.

* “about” $378 billon (74%) has been for Iraq.

*$99 billion (19%) has been for Afghanistan.

*$28 billion (5%) has been for other operations.

If one includes the additional money President Bush has requested to complete the current fiscal year ($94.4 billion to complement the $70 billion already appropriated for FY 2007) and the $141.7 billion requested for FY 2008, total costs would be $752 billion, including

* $564 billion for Iraq.

* $155 billion for Afghanistan.

* $28 billion for Operation Noble Eagle.

Of these totals, $5 billion is unallocated: just one of the many problems CRS, GAO, and CBO found with the completeness and accuracy of DOD’s data on the costs of the wars.

It is also apparent that the costs of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are accelerating. Just as one example, per soldier/Marine costs have increased from $320,000 to $390,000 per deployed troop per year. DOD has explained some of these increases, but not all.

The total costs of the wars could range from $980 billion to $1.4 trillion under two scenarios estimated by Congressional Budget Office. These future predictions should be treated carefully, however. Up to now, there has been no downturn of costs, which CBO postulates in both of the scenarios it assessed.

Happy 4th Anniversary.

WINSLOW T. WHEELER is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information and author of The Wastrels of Defense. Over 31 years, he worked for US Senators from both political parties and the Government Accountability Office on national security issues. He can be contacted at: winslowwheeler@comcast.net.

 

 

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Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight.  He spent 31 years working for the Government Accountability Office and both Republican and Democratic Senators on national security issues.

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