About These Counters
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, National Priorities Project has tracked the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq in December 2011 and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, have led to the question – what’s going to happen to funding for U.S. operations in these countries?
The answer is in three parts:
- Annual funding will be lower than in the past.
- The wars will continue to draw on taxpayer resources even after combat operations in both countries have ended.
- The funding stream will increasingly flow through federal agencies other than the Department of Defense, primarily the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
NPP will continue to analyze funding for Iraq and Afghanistan – and the counters will keep rolling – for as long as U.S. taxpayers are asked to support the direct and indirect costs of these wars.
War Costs To Date
[Note: These totals are based on appropriations that provide funding through the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2013.]
- Total War Funding: $1.48 trillion has been allocated to date to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including $98.6 billion in fiscal year 2013.
- Iraq: To date, $812.6 billion has been allocated for the war in Iraq since 2003, including $5.2 billion in fiscal year 2013.
- Afghanistan: To date, $664.2 billion has been allocated for the war in Afghanistan since 2001, including $93.3 billion in fiscal year 2013.
Note: See the annualized breakout of war funding by country in the bar chart below.
About These Counters
The counters running on the Cost of War homepage include all of the funding that has been requested by the President and appropriated by Congress for the wars through the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2013. These numbers reflect the allocation of $98.6 billion in March 2013 as part of the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013. [For additional information, see our “Notes and Sources.”]
The Situation in Afghanistan
In his February 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama announced that half of the 66,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Afghanistan would be withdrawn within a year. The remaining troops are expected to begin coming home after Afghanistan’s presidential election in April 2014. In a January 2013 joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Obama stated that starting in early 2013 Afghan forces would begin taking the lead in security operations across the country, and that “by the end of next year, 2014, the transition will be complete – Afghans will have full responsibility for their security, and this war will come to a responsible end.”
Yet this handover of command will not spell the end of U.S. and/or NATO involvement in Afghanistan. Foreign forces will likely continue to train Afghan security personnel. Currently there is a debate within the Pentagon and the White House about the number of U.S. forces that will remain in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline. According to media accounts, troop numbers between 8,000 and over 13,000 are being discussed.
In addition, the United States will continue to bear at least a portion of the financial burden of training, equipping and supporting the Afghan national forces. Afghanistan's economy is simply too weak to be able to pay the bills. In a December 2009 press conference with then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, President Karzai indicated that the Afghan government would be unable financially to support its own security forces "maybe for another 15 to 20 years." In order to maintain long-term stability in the region, it seems almost certain that the United States and NATO will continue to shoulder a least a portion of these costs.
The Situation in Iraq
On Dec. 15, 2011 then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta presided over the “U.S. Forces in Iraq End of Mission Ceremony” in Baghdad, signaling the final withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq.
Yet the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq does not mean the end of U.S. presence in that country, nor the end of U.S. funding for Iraq operations. The fiscal year 2013 budget includes roughly $5.2 billion for Iraq funded through the Department of State.
The U.S. taxpayer will continue to provide funding for Iraq for years into the future. The Department of State will play an increasing role in Iraq, taking on some of the functions – such as physical security for U.S. government personnel and oversight of U.S. contracts – formerly performed by the Defense Department.
According to the State Department’s budget request for fiscal year 2013, "With the departure of U.S. troops at the end of 2011, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has become the foundation for all U.S. programs and efforts in Iraq. The diplomatic mission has also assumed responsibility for numerous essential activities previously performed by DOD, ranging from providing airlift to protecting civilian personnel..."