In 2014, it will cost an average of an eye-popping $2.1 million for every U.S. troop serving in Afghanistan, according to a report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA).To put this in context, the report, which analyzed the Pentagon's budget, found that from 2008 to 2013, the per-troop cost was roughly $1.3 million.
So what's the cause of the dramatic spike?
The number of troops deployed has been falling steadily. In 2011, there were nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. In 2014, that number is expected to be roughly 40,000. Despite a 39 percent reduction in troops from 2013 to 2014, the budget is being reduced by only 10 percent, according to Todd Harrison, who authored the report for the CSBA.Defense Department officials claim the increased cost is due to the high cost of sending troops and equipment home during the drawdown, according to Defense One.
While that may have something to do with the increased cost, Harrison says it "doesn't hold water" for him.
"I think what's going on here is that the Army and the Air Force are reclassifying more of their peacetime training operations as predeployment training so they can put it in the OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) request. Why would you want to do that? Well, money that's in the OCO request doesn't count against the budget cap."He goes on to say he is not certain the Department of Defense is doing this, and that this is all circumstantial evidence.
During the Iraq War, the cost per troop hit approximately $400,000 in 2005, according to a government study cited in the Houston Chronicle. Factoring in inflation, the per-soldier cost projected for 2014 Afghanistan is 352 percent higher than in Iraq in 2005.
Since earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly reached a preliminary agreement with
Afghan President Hamid Karzai that would allow American troops to remain in Afghanistan past the December 31, 2014, deadline. It's unclear exactly how long the U.S. will be paying this exorbitant price, which doesn't speak well for the unbalanced budget bouncing around Washington.
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