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American taxpayers have spent over a trillion on wars

The US Department of Defense has released yet another “cost of war” report. The newly released version, obtained by the Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News blog, paints a dismal picture.

Published: November 3, 2017, 8:55 am

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    The expenses were incurred over the time from the 11 September attacks on New York up to mid-2017.

    The Afghanistan War from 2001 to 2014 and Iraq War from 2003 to 2011 were by far the most expensive, coming to more than $1.3 trillion.

    Combined, the continuing US presence in Afghanistan and aerial anti-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria since 2014, have added a cost of $120 billion.

    The costs reflected in the report include only direct war-related expenses such as operating and maintaining bases, procuring equipment, as well as compensation for soldiers and catering.

    It most notably neither includes the expense of veteran’s benefits for those who have served in these wars nor the intelligence community’s expenses related to the so-called Global War on Terror.

    Figures from the Congressional Research Service, show that the only war in US history to cost more than the Global War on Terror was World War II, amounting to more than $4.1 trillion in present dollars. Direct war-related expenses from the Vietnam War would cost $738 billion in today’s dollars.

    Moreover, Harvard Kennedy School professor Linda Bilmes estimated the cost of veterans’ benefits as $600 billion to $1 trillion over the next 40 years in her research from 2011, the International Business Times reported.

    Her calculations were based on 482 364 veterans receiving compensation for disability connected to service as of February 2011. Since then, the number of veterans receiving compensation for service-related disability has increased dramatically.

    According to the Veterans’ Benefits Administration’s 2016 annual benefits report, over a million veterans are receiving service-related benefits, averaging $15 907 per year.

    The total annual benefits for Global War on Terror veterans’ benefits are currently $16.8 billion per year, which calculated over the next 40 years would total $674 billion, in line with Bilmes’ original 2011 estimate.

    Sadly, after 16 years and hundreds of billions spent on the reconstruction of Afghanistan since the US invasion, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces remain alarmingly unprepared to take on the resurgent Taliban. As a result, information on war expenses, is becoming increasingly limited.

    US Forces-Afghanistan meanwhile has classified and restricted once-public information on their efforts in the country, including “casualties, personnel strength, attrition, capability assessments, and operational readiness of equipment”.

    Essentially, that means the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction — the office that, for a decade, has sought to nail down what US taxpayers actually get in return for the war effort, can no longer do its job.

    “More than 60 percent of the approximately $121 billion in US funding for reconstruction in Afghanistan since 2002 has gone to build up the ANDSF,” SIGAR chief John Sopko noted in his latest quarterly report to Congress. “The increased classification of ANDSF data will hinder SIGAR’s ability to publicly report on progress or failure in a key reconstruction sector.

    “The Afghans know what’s going on; the Taliban knows what’s going on; the US military knows what’s going on,” Sopko told the New York Times. “The only people who don’t know what’s going on are the people paying for it.”

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