United States Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11 Wars: $6.4 Trillion

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Publish Date : 12/03/2019 14:14
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The US so-called war on terror has killed over 801,000 people and cost $6.4 trillion. The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don't end when soldiers come home.

A documented report has been published on November 13th 2019 about the costs of post-9/11 wars through fiscal year 2020. It has written by Professor Neta C. Crawford who is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Boston University and a co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute and Boston University’s Pardee Center. (To read the last year report click here.)

One of the major purposes of the Costs of War Project has been to clarify the types of budgetary costs of the US post-9/11 wars, how that spending is funded, and the long-term implications of past and current spending. The Costs of War Project takes a broader view of war expenses because budgetary costs of the post-9/11 wars are not confined to military spending.

A separate study published by the Costs of War reported the human cost of those wars had reached between 770,000 and 801,000. "The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don't end when soldiers come home. These reports provide a reminder that even if fewer soldiers are dying and the U.S. is spending a little less on the immediate costs of war today, the financial impact is still as bad as, or worse than, it was 10 years ago" said Catherine Lutz, Costs of War co-director who authored the projects' report on deaths.

This estimate of the US budgetary costs of the post-9/11 wars is a comprehensive accounting intended to provide a sense of the consequences of the wars for the federal budget. Since the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Defense appropriations related to the Global War on Terror have been treated as emergency appropriations, now called Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). When accounting for total war costs, the Department of Defense and other entities often present only Overseas Contingency Operation appropriations.

Here are some points of the report:
- Since late 2001, the United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $6.4 Trillion through Fiscal Year 2020 in budgetary costs related to and caused by the post-9/11 wars, an estimated $5.4 Trillion in appropriations in current dollars and an additional minimum of $1 Trillion for US obligations to care for the veterans of these wars through the next several decades.

- The mission of the post-9/11 wars, as originally defined, was to defend the United States against future terrorist threats from al Qaeda and affiliated organizations. Since 2001, the wars have expanded from the fighting in Afghanistan, to wars and smaller operations elsewhere, in more than 80 countries —becoming a truly “global war on terror.”

- These wars, and the domestic counterterror mobilization, have entailed significant expenses, paid for by deficit spending. Thus, even if the United States withdraws completely from the major war zones by the end of FY2020and halts its other Global War on Terror operations, in the Philippines and Africa for example, the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11wars will continue to rise as the US pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest on borrowing to pay for the wars.

- In 2018, there were 4.1 million post-9/11 war veterans, comprising about 21 percent of all veterans and 16 percent of all veterans served by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).40 The post-9/11 war veterans are, in general, less healthy than the veterans of previous wars. Advances in trauma and battlefield medicine, have meant that the veterans of these wars, also called Gulf War era II veterans, have survived to live with more service connected disabilities than veterans of previous wars. These veterans, exposed to different field conditions and who often served multiple deployments, need more and different kinds of medical care than the veterans of previous wars and those costs will only rise.

- The major trends in the budgetary costs of the post-9/11 wars include: less transparency in reporting costs among most major agencies; greater institutionalization of the costs of war in the DOD base budget, State Department, and The Department of Homeland Security; and the growing budgetary burden of veterans’ medical care and disability care.




“ United States Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11 Wars: $6.4 Trillion ”