Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the monthly cost of operations in Iraq is roughly $3.9 billion.
In addition, the cost of operations in Afghanistan are now US$900 million to US$950 million monthly, Rumsfeld said.
U.S. troops in Iraq face 10 to 25 attacks a day, partly because they are hunting for Baathists, "jihadists" and fighters crossing the border from Syria, Gen. Tommy Franks, who ran the war against Baghdad, said on Thursday.
It would be useful to know what relative portion each of these types of fighters are contributing to the total. Also, is the Syrian government working to facilitate the movement of Islamic Jihadist warriors to the Syrian-Iraq border?
Mr. Rumsfeld emphasized that anti-coalition violence was concentrated in a relatively small area of Iraq, while most of the country was now safe; it came from seemingly unconnected sources; and it was being subdued in military operations that themselves added to the coalition casualty count.
The problem with the continued fighting in Iraq is not just the added cost. Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution says current deployment levels are not sustainable.
This total of nearly 250,000 deployed troops must be generated from an Army of just over 1 million. The active-duty force numbers 480,000, of which fewer than 320,000 are easily deployable at any given moment. The Army Reserve and Army National Guard together include 550,000 troops, many of whom already have been called up at least once since 9/11.
O'Hanlon makes a number of suggestions to deal with the strains of having such a large fraction of the Army deployed. But many of those suggestions can not be implemented rapidly. Until the US gets a better handle on Iraq and the attacks decline dramatically the US ought to avoid additional commitments such as a deployment to Liberia. The nuclear proliferation threats posed by Iran and North Korea are additional reasons to avoid any other additional optional military operations in countries which are having civil wars.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 July 11 02:27 AM Mideast Iraq Costs|