Budget office says war costs may top $1 trillion over 10 years
The budgetary forecasts hinge largely on the size of the force deployed to Iraq between 2008 and 2017, a matter that Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England told the panel is nearly impossible to predict. "That's a long way in the future" to estimate both costs and force levels, he said.
But CBO officials, at the request of House Budget Chairman John Spratt, D-S.C., estimated that the total costs of operations would range from $924 billion to just over $1 trillion if the size of the deployed force decreases from 210,000 today to 75,000 by 2013.
That compares to a CBO estimate in February of $840 billion total cost. But if the size of the deployed force shrinks to 30,000 troops by 2010, war costs would range from $481 billion to $603 billion between 2008 and 2017, CBO said Tuesday.
Already, Congress has appropriated $602 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan and other efforts in the war against terrorism, averaging about $93 billion annually between fiscal 2003 and fiscal 2005 before rising to $120 billion in fiscal 2006 and $170 billion in fiscal 2007. Of the total price tag, the lion's share -- $533 billion -- has paid for military operations and other Defense Department efforts.
The Bush administration's decision earlier this year to temporarily send thousands of additional troops to Iraq will cost $10 billion if this so-called surge lasts four months, $22 billion if extended a year, and $40 billion for two years, according to the CBO analysis.
During the hearing, England acknowledged the Defense Department will have to request additional fiscal 2008 funding to pay for the surge in military operations. The administration had not included any funds for the larger military presence in Iraq in its fiscal 2008 budget or fiscal 2008 supplemental funding request.
England would not comment on how much additional money will be needed for Iraq operations, but said it would be "physically impossible" to pull the additional troops out of theater by Oct. 1, the start of the next fiscal year. The Pentagon will revise and amend its war request in September, most likely after the release of the much-anticipated Sept. 15 Iraq progress report.
England also said the Defense Department will seek $5.3 billion in additional fiscal 2008 funding for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which offer far better protection against roadside bombs than the military's current fleet of up-armored Humvees. That money would be used to buy more of the urgently needed vehicles and pay for two years of anticipated maintenance and repair costs, England said.
The Pentagon requested roughly $400 million for MRAPs in fiscal 2008, but both the House-passed version of the defense authorization bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the measure added $4 billion to that request. Appropriators in both chambers are expected to follow suit in September.
"The Congress has been very responsive to our requests," England said.