Funding for war in Afghanistan will eclipse Iraq for the first time in next year's budget.
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For the first time, the war in Afghanistan in the next budget year will cost Americans more than the war in Iraq. By the end of the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, the total military budget costs for both wars will have exceeded $1 trillion.
A trillion dollars is hard to imagine. Think of it this way: If you had an expense account good for $1 million a day, it would take 2,935 years to spend $1.071 trillion, which is the actual estimate for the wars’ price tag by Travis Sharp of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington. He reckons the two conflicts will have cost the typical American family of four roughly $13,000 by next year.
Wars, even counterinsurgency conflicts, are expensive in lives and dollars.
Why is Afghanistan getting so expensive? The US is sending more troops, of course. It also costs about 50 percent more to keep a soldier in Afghanistan than in Iraq, says Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University economist. In sharp contrast to flat, urbanized Iraq, most of Afghanistan’s population lives in rural, mountainous terrain with few good roads to link them up.
Officially, Afghanistan war costs are budgeted at $65 billion for fiscal 2010, somewhat more than the $61 billion for the Iraq war.
The true total is probably closer to $85 billion or more, estimates Gordon Adams, a defense expert at American University’s School of International Service in Washington. He says the US is paying more than $500 million a year to counter the narcotics business there.