Cost of Keeping One U.S. Soldier in Afghanistan Per Year: One Million Dollars

November 15th, 2009

The U.S. doesn’t have to “win” the war for a handful of diabolical corporations to make a killing. The trick is to keep the war going for as long as possible.

And, day after day, the shakedown continues.

Bogus contracts, drugs and energy. That’s all, folks.

Plus a little change we can believe in.

Via: New York Times:

While President Obama’s decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan is primarily a military one, it also has substantial budget implications that are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say.

The latest internal government estimates place the cost of adding 40,000 American troops and sharply expanding the Afghan security forces, as favored by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, at $40 billion to $54 billion a year, the officials said.

Even if fewer troops are sent, or their mission is modified, the rough formula used by the White House, of about $1 million per soldier a year, appears almost constant.

So even if Mr. Obama opts for a lower troop commitment, Afghanistan’s new costs could wash out the projected $26 billion expected to be saved in 2010 from withdrawing troops from Iraq. And the overall military budget could rise to as much as $734 billion, or 10 percent more than the peak of $667 billion under the Bush administration.

Such an escalation in military spending would be a politically volatile issue for Mr. Obama at a time when the government budget deficit is soaring, the economy is weak and he is trying to pass a costly health care plan.

Senior members of the House Appropriations Committee have already expressed reservations about the potential long-term costs of expanding the war in Afghanistan. And Mr. Obama could find it difficult to win approval for the additional spending in Congress, where he would have to depend on Republicans to counter defections from liberal Democrats.

One senior administration official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the details of confidential deliberations, said these concerns had added to the president’s insistence at a White House meeting on Wednesday that each military option include the quickest possible exit strategy.

“The president focused a lot on ensuring that we were asking the difficult questions about getting to an end game here,” the official said. “He knows we cannot sustain this indefinitely.”

Sending fewer troops would lower the costs but would also place limitations on the buildup strategy. Sending 30,000 more troops, for example, would cost $25 billion to $30 billion a year while limiting how widely American forces could range. Deploying 20,000 troops would cost about $21 billion annually but would expand mainly the training of Afghans, the officials said.

The estimated $1 million a year it costs per soldier is higher than the $390,000 congressional researchers estimated in 2006.

Military analysts said the increase reflects a surge in costs for mine-resistant troop carriers and surveillance equipment that would apply to troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But some costs are unique to Afghanistan, where it can cost as much as $400 a gallon to deliver fuel to the troops through mountainous terrain.

Some administration estimates suggest it could also cost up to $50 billion over five years to more than double the size of the Afghan army and police force, to a total of 400,000. That includes recruiting, training and equipment.

2 Responses to “Cost of Keeping One U.S. Soldier in Afghanistan Per Year: One Million Dollars”

  1. thucydides Says:

    Boy, it’s a good thing there’s no actual existential threats to the US military. ‘Cause anyone else who can figure out how to deploy forces for under $1m/year per soldier would have a field day.

    Makes me think of the Russian T-34 tank deployed in WWII against the German Panzer IV and later Tiger I and Panther tanks. The German heavy tanks were brutes, but even if the Germans could take out 2 Russian T-34s per Tiger, the Russians could produce 3 or 4 T-34s for every Tiger.

    Let’s hope this is just more wealth-extraction bullshit.

  2. Eileen Says:

    Yes indeed those pesky corporations that make money from feeding at the trough of the war machine. I don’t know if its “change I can believe in,” but the Big O has at least not as yet, written a blank check – or any check yet- Afghanistan.
    I do know that Obama chapped Lockheed’s ass big time when he cancelled the new presidental helicopter. My sort of nephew, who went to Iraq with the Marines got a good job working on that new helicopter. And so one corporation – Lockheed at least has been given a cautionary notice that Obama is not Bush.
    I’m too tired to figure out what “inning” Obama is in right now – ya know- if there were ten innings per year of his presidency – assuming the worst case of a one term job.
    Myself, I consider its way too early to call the game on Obama. I think he’s just warming up.
    Bush II on the other hand, when I compare the two, fugged about it. Bush and Cheney didn’t haven’t any wars to find their way out of – so they just created them. Not one but TWO wars. And they would have started nuclear wars with N. Korea and Iran if given just another term to figure it out.
    And Obama, looks to me likes he’s been handed a really large bag of hot poop. He did ask for the job. But the bank and Wall Street bail out thing, that was a knife – I don’t know that Obama had foreknowledge or could have seen that one coming. I don’t like what’s happening there but I don’t have any better ideas.
    And sure, maybe Obama is another Manchurian candidate, or whatever.
    But I’d rather listen to him talk and what his ideas are anyday than listen to, look at, or even think about Bush, or Cheney, or Ashcroft, or what’s his name from “homeland security.”
    At least Obama has ideas. Too bad not everyone likes his ideas about how to fix things. God/dess bless you if you know how to fix this mess.

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