Afghan war costs now surpass Iraq’s: $6.7 billion for February alone

By John Byrne
Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:58 EDT
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The amount of money the United States is spending on its war in Afghanistan has surpassed the cost of its war in Iraq for the first time.

US taxpayers shelled out $6.7 billion for the Afghan war in February, the most recent month for which statistics are available, as opposed to $5.5 billion for the war in Iraq. The total cost for the two wars is now approaching $1 trillion.

Maintaining the US presence in Afghanistan has grown in price since the US began redeploying some troops from Iraq. Keeping US forces in Afghanistan is also more expensive because the country is landlocked and it is harder to transport supplies.

USA Today has more:

•The number of U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan has risen to 87,000, on top of 47,000 from 44 other countries. At the same time, the number of U.S. servicemembers in Iraq has dropped to 94,000. By next year, Afghanistan is to have 102,000 U.S. servicemembers, Iraq 43,000.

•Afghanistan will cost nearly $105 billion in the 2010 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, including most of $33 billion in additional spending requested by Obama and pending before Congress. Iraq will cost about $66 billion. In fiscal 2011, Afghanistan is projected to cost $117 billion, Iraq $46 billion. To date, Pentagon spending in Iraq has reached $620 billion, compared with $190 billion in Afghanistan.

•Costs per servicemember in Afghanistan have been roughly double what they are in Iraq since 2005. That is due to lower troop levels, Afghanistan’s landlocked location, lack of infrastructure, high cost of fuel and less reliable security. “The cost just cascades,” says Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “That’s always been an issue in Afghanistan.”

The amount spent for each US soldier now costs American taxpayers roughly $1,000,000 a year, according to a report published in October 2009. The cost is so high in part because fuel and other supplies must be transported in some cases by helicopter in special bladders. In some areas it is difficult to supply troops without airlifts.

In 2006, Congressional researchers estimated that the accumulated costs for each soldier in Afghanistan would be about $390,000. The sharp rise in costs reflects the increase in mine-resistant troop carriers and surveillance equipment, in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The unique difficulties of transporting soldiers around the mountainous, isolated terrain in Afghanistan also burdens U.S. taxpayers, military analysts say.

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