Eight weeks of the US bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS) and the bill is soaring. This must concern all of us – US taxpayers – greatly. Especially if it’s unlikely to do much more than temporarily halt the militant group’s progress to Erbil or Baghdad and help briefly protect 4,000 refugees without any prospect of long-lived relief.
Todd Harrison, defense budget guru of the Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent, Washington, D.C. nonprofit public policy research institute that focuses on national security and defense issues, estimates that the US has already spent between $780 and $930 million.
Assuming a moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces, he estimates costs as somewhere between $200 and $320 million per month. This adds up to between $2.4 and $3.8 billion per year.
But if the campaign gets hotter and 25,000 US troops hit the ground, he says, the bill would reach $1.1 to $1.8 billion per month. Or $13 to $22 billion a year.
Boots on the ground? Haven’t we been there before? To no avail. And at enormous cost in blood and treasure?
(Tomorrow: Bombs, boots on the ground won’t destroy IS. Only the locals can)