Afghan Calculus: 40K Troops Equals $40B

High long-term costs a big factor in debate
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2009 4:04 PM CST
Marines board a chopper en route to Helmand province.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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(Newser) – When President Obama rejected advisers' recommendations on Afghan troops and insisted they be retooled with exit strategies, he had the war's long-term financial costs in mind, an insider tells the New York Times. While military strategy gets the headlines, the financial constraints also are weighing heavily. Some specfics:

  • Gen. McChyrstal's preferred option of adding 40,000 troops would cost $40 billion to $54 billion per year.

  • Even going with a lesser number of say 30,000 troops would wipe out the $26 billion to be saved next year when US troops leave Iraq.
  • Figure a rough baseline of $1 million per soldier per year. That's up from an estimate of $390,000 in 2006, largely because of the unique challenges posed by Afghanistan. Mountainous terrain can result in a $400 gallon of fuel.
  • A troop increase could push the overall military budget to as high as $734 billion, a politically dicey prospect for Obama. The Bush team's peak was $667 billion.