According to the US defense officials, Obama needs USD 75.5 billion for 2009 to cover the cost of the additional troops deployed in to Afghanistan this year and an another USD 130 billion for the rest of fiscal 2009.
Meanwhile, the sources added that the 2010 War spending will be part of the president’s overall defense funding request to be announced on Thursday.
The war spending request will be in addition to USD 534 billion for the US Defense Department’s other expenditures.
The US Congress had already approved USD 65.9 billion in emergency wartime spending for fiscal 2009.
This is while late December, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) reported that the direct cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could reach as high as USD 1.7 trillion by 2018 even with fewer troops in Iraq.
The CSBA report found that the war in Iraq alone has already cost more in inflation-adjusted dollars than every other US war except World War II.
The cost of sending a single soldier to fight for a year in Afghanistan or Iraq is about USD 775,000 – three times more than in other recent wars, the report said. The report concluded that the nearly USD 1 trillion already spent is only a down payment on the war’s long-term costs.
US defence costs come under scrutiny
For those who harbored any doubts, the Barack Obama administration’s adoption of the George W Bush framework of the “war on terror” – it does feel like a back-to-the-future “continuity” – here are two key facts on the ground.
Obama has officially started his much-touted Afghanistan surge, authorizing the deployment of 17,000 US troops (8,000 marines, 4,000 army and 5,000 support) mostly to the Pashtun-dominated, southern Helmand province. Justification: “The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention.” The marines start arriving in Afghanistan in May. Their mission is as hazy as it is hazardous: eradication of the poppy culture, the source of heroin (which accounts for almost 40% of Afghanistan’sgross domestic product). There are already 38,000 US troops in Afghanistan, plus 18,000 as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 50,000 contingent.
Obama administration nominees, in confirmation testimony that seemed to have disappeared in a black hole, stressed they are in favor of continuing the Central Intelligence Agency’s extraordinary rendition practices and detaining – ad infinitum – “terror” suspects without trial, even if they were captured far, far away from a war zone. (Considering the Pentagon’s elastic definition of an “arc of instability”, this means anywhere from Somalia to Xinjiang.) That has prompted New York Times writers to come up with a delightful headline: “Obama’s War on Terror May resemble Bush’s in some Areas.”
When in doubt, bomb ’em
Basically, the Obama administration’s strategy – for now – boils down to turbo-charging a war against Pashtun farmers and peasants. Poppy cultivation has been part of Afghan culture for centuries. A high-tech aerial war on destitute peasants will have only one certified result: more of them increasing their support for, or outright migration to, the multi-faceted fight against foreign occupation which the Pentagon insists on defining as an “insurgency”.
Related Story: Is Afghanistan going to be Obama’s Iraq?