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CRS: The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11

Author: Amy Belasco, Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget
March 29, 2011

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Amy Belasco of the Congressional Research Service explains the estimated allocation for funds authorized by the enactment of the sixth FY2011 Continuing Resolution through March 18, 2011 and breaks down several cost components of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror.

With enactment of the sixth FY2011 Continuing Resolution through March 18, 2011, (H.J.Res. 48/P.L. 112-6) Congress has approved a total of $1.283 trillion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans' health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). This estimate assumes that the current CR level continues through the rest of the year and that agencies allocate reductions proportionately.

Of this $1.283 trillion total, CRS estimates that Iraq will receive about $806 billion (63%), OEF $444 billion (35%) and enhanced base security about $29 billion (2%), with about $5 billion that CRS cannot allocate (1/2%). About 94% of the funds are for DOD, 5% for foreign aid programs and diplomatic operations, and 1% for medical care for veterans.

Between FY2009 and FY2010, average monthly DOD spending for Afghanistan grew from $4.4 billion to $6.7 billion a month, a 50% increase while average troop strength almost doubled from 44,000 to 84,000 as part of the troop surge announced by the President last year. Troop strength in Afghanistan is expected to average 102,000 in FY2011. DOD's plans call for troop levels to fall by less than 4,000 in FY2012 unless the President decides otherwise as part of his decision to "begin transition to Afghan security lead in early 2011. . . [to a ] a responsible, conditions-based U.S. troop reduction in July 2011." At the same time, the President announced a long-term U.S. commitment to a NATO summit goal of "a path to complete transition by the end of 2014." It is currently unclear how quickly or slowly troop levels will fall this summer or in later years to meet these goals.

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