FACTBOX-A look at the costs of Afghan war to U.S. taxpayers

By Susan Cornwell

July 16 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s request
for more money to pay for the war in Afghanistan is working its
way through Congress slowly as lawmakers concentrate on other
priorities and deal with scarce budget resources.

Obama has asked for $33 billion more to help fund 30,000
extra U.S. soldiers being sent to Afghanistan this year. He
wants $4.5 billion more for beefed-up foreign aid and civilian
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year; about $2 billion
of that amount is dedicated to Afghanistan.

The House of Representatives approved the funding last
month and added billions of dollars in non-military spending,
meaning the measure must return to the Senate for final
approval.

Lawmakers are expected to pass the funds, but are also
demanding assurances that the government of Afghan President
Hamid Karzai tackles corruption to ensure U.S. taxpayer dollars
are not wasted.

Following are the costs to U.S. taxpayers so far, as well
as some of the future funding needed.

COSTS SO FAR

Congress has approved $345 billion so far for the war in
Afghanistan, which the United States invaded to fight al Qaeda
and topple the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The
nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which produced the
figure, said about $22 billion has gone for Afghan-war-related
activities in other countries.

COMPARISON WITH IRAQ

Some $708 billion has gone to the Iraq war so far, CBO
says. But Afghanistan is becoming the more expensive
battleground, as the pace of U.S. military operations slows in
Iraq and quickens in Afghanistan.

The current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is the first
in which more money has been allocated to Afghanistan ($72.3
billion) than Iraq ($64.5 billion), according to the National
Priorities Project, a nonpartisan budget research group that
examines congressional appropriations.

MONEY FOR AFGHANISTAN’S MILITARY AND POLICE FORCES

Included in the money spent on Afghanistan is more than $25
billion for training and equipping the Afghan National Security
Forces — the army and police, according to the Special
Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Obama wants
another $14.2 billion for this purpose for the rest of this
year and next; the idea is to leave behind security forces that
can take on the responsibility of fighting the Taliban as U.S.
forces start to leave.

FUTURE MILITARY COSTS

Future expenses are a question mark, partly because troop
levels are uncertain. Obama says he wants to start withdrawing
forces from Afghanistan in mid-2011, but that will depend on
conditions on the ground. No departure deadline has been set.

Estimates of the cost per troop per year in Afghanistan
vary from $500,000 to $1 million depending on whether
expenditures on housing and equipment are included along with
pay, food and fuel. Medical costs and veterans’ compensation
balloon as time goes on.

FOREIGN AID AND CIVILIAN SURGE

Foreign aid, including food and development assistance, to
Afghanistan has totaled some $17 billion since 2002, according
to Department of State and Congressional Research Service
documents.

Future expenses are unknown and there is growing concern
among lawmakers over corruption in Karzai’s government.

Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat who heads the House
appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid, last month froze
about $3.9 billion in civilian aid to Afghanistan pending
hearings on how Afghanistan and its U.S. partners intend to
handle corruption.

The State Department is seeking more money to help fund a
“civilian stabilization strategy” to deliver more economic
assistance to Afghanistan, especially its agricultural sector.
Part of the idea is to create jobs that will draw insurgents
off the battlefield in Afghanistan.
(Editing by Alan Elsner)

FACTBOX-A look at the costs of Afghan war to U.S. taxpayers