US has spent $5.6 trillion on wars since 9/11—study
WASHINGTON, DC — November 26, 2018
Through Fiscal Year 2019 the United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror, which has killed at least 480,000 people, 244,000 of whom were civilians, with another 10 million becoming refugees, according to Neta C. Crawford from the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
If the US continues on its current path, war spending will continue to grow and will exceed $6 trillion in 2019. If the conflict lasts 2020, it could exceed $7 trillion.
The experts from the Watson Institute short-counted the war waged by the Pentagon in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The longest war in Afghanistan has been going on for over 17 years.
The Watson Institute claims to have used a “more comprehensive estimate” of the global War on Terror, citing a total approximate cost of $23,386 per US taxpayer. Neta C. Crawford notes that the official figures of the Pentagon’s estimates of the costs of the post-9/11 wars are greatly underestimated and include only part of the costs of the war.
In reality, they are much higher, because it includes not only war appropriations made to the Department of Defense – spending in the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in other places the government designates as sites of “overseas contingency operations,” – but also includes spending across the federal government that is a consequence of these wars—specifically, war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.
From the above amount, Iraq and Afghanistan account for nearly $1.8 trillion, but the researchers included the cost of obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans’ treatment, which are likely to exceed this amount, in the result.
There are about 23,000 NATO troops on the territory of Afghanistan now. Approximately 14,000 US troops are still serving there in an attempt to contain a growing wave of extremism. They do not participate in hostilities but are advisers and instructors.
Even though the conflict has been making fewer headlines in recent years, the US has never dropped as many bombs on Afghanistan as it did this year. Since President Trump announced a new Afghan strategy last August and committed more troops to the country, the number of bombs dropped by the US coalition has surged dramatically. The increase is primarily due to a change in the rules of engagement which allows coalition forces to open fire on the enemy without being in contact with them. It surely has also led to more civilian deaths. Last month, the UN announced that the number of civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2018 is higher than in any year since it started documenting them in 2009.
Each flight costs tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the bombs are not cheap.
On November 6, it became known that the deployment of the US military on the border with Mexico will cost the US government from $42 to $110 million.
The Pentagon didn’t respond to a request for comment on the report.