$15 Billion a Month
The latest estimate of the growing costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the worldwide battle against terrorism – nearly $15 billion a month – came last week from one of the Senate’s leading proponents of a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq.
"This cost of this war is approaching $15 billion a month, with the Army spending $4.2 billion of that every month," Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska), the ranking Republican on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, said in a little-noticed floor speech Dec. 18. His remarks came in support of adding $70 billion to the omnibus fiscal 2008 spending legislation to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, as well as counterterrorism activities, for the six months from Oct. 1, 2007, through March 31 of next year.
While most of the public focus has been on the political fight over troop levels, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported this month that the Bush administration’s request for the 2008 fiscal year of $189.3 billion for Defense Department operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and worldwide counterterrorism activities was 20 percent higher than for fiscal 2007 and 60 percent higher than for fiscal 2006.
"Stevens is being realistic," said Gordon Adams, who served as the senior national security official at the Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1997, in the Clinton administration.
Pointing out that Bush’s request comes out to $15.8 billion per month, Adams said: "Iraq, Afghanistan, and the war on terror are not getting cheaper. . . . This will go down some, as the surge comes home, but not as much as people think."
He added: "More and more of these so-called emergency funds are being used to repair and buy new military hardware," because "the Pentagon is worried that defense budgets will start to go down next year."
Translation: Bush’s war gave them lots of new toys, but those got wrecked pretty fast (war does that, y’know) and they want to get some more while they can before the war starts to wind down. (I’m sounding facetious here, but because of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the readiness state of our armed forces is a mess, both in terms of equipment and persons, to the point where unit cohesion is already falling apart and mutinies are happening. Of course, maybe things wouldn’t be so bad on the equipment front if there wasn’t so much war profiteering going on.)
One indication of how fast costs are rising is that operations and maintenance costs for all of fiscal 2007 were $72 billion, and the entire fiscal year 2008 request was $81 billion, according to the CRS.
Which is why costs are rising even though overall violence is allegedly down.
Ironically, in the one place where violence has dropped the most — Basra — the violence drop was the result of the occupying British troops leaving, which would reduce the Brits’ costs considerably.