The Monetary Cost of America’s War on Terror

Photo: Sgt Amanda Campbell

In its latest Cost of War Update, the U.S. Department of Defense provides all of us with a concise examination of the total direct war-related costs of the War on Terror which officially began on September 11, 2001.  Here is a breakdown of the cost of each operation of the war up to June 30, 2017 keeping in mind that war-related costs include only military operational costs, support for deployed troops and transportation of personnel and equipment and excludes indirect costs including veterans’ benefits, long-term health care for military personnel, reconstruction and post-conflict stabilization programs:

1.) Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) – Since OIF began on March 20, 2003, it has cost U.S. taxpayers a total of $731 billion (this includes Operation New Dawn, the name for the U.S. involvement after the “end” of the Iraq War in December 2011).

2.) Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) – Since the U.S. military entered the military intervention against the Islamic State in 2014, OIR has cost U.S. taxpayers $17.1 billion.

3.) Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) – Since OEF began in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, it has cost U.S. taxpayers $584.7 billion.  It consists of operations in the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and Kyrygzstan, all with the aim of counterterrorism.

4.) Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) – Since the end of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan at the end of December 2014, the U.S. operations in the region have been renamed Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.  OFS has cost U.S. taxpayers $102.9 billion.

5.) Operation Noble Eagle (ONE) – Since its inception in 2001 with the purpose of preventing 9/11-style air attacks in North America, ONE has cost U.S. taxpayers $27.6 billion.

In total, all five of these operations (and their affiliated operations) have cost U.S. taxpayers $1.463 trillion.

Here is a graph showing the appropriated war-related funding requests for the War on Terror since fiscal 2001:

Here is a breakdown of the appropriated funds:

Here is a breakdown of the war-related obligations for actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Operation Nobel Eagle:

While military operations in the War on Terror have wound down since their peak in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, the cost to taxpayers is still mounting as the following data for fiscal 2017 shows:

 

During fiscal 2017, the War on Terror will still cost U.S> taxpayers an average of $3.6 billion for all operations.

When all costs of the War on Terror are included, the total to fiscal 2016 looks like this:

Incidentally, while it is minor compared to the other costs associated with the War on Terror, the Cost of War Update report cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $180,000 to prepare.

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