U.S. Taxpayers Pay the Price for Wasteful War Strategy

Forward Operating Base Gardez, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2009

The U.S. and Afghanistan began talks last week over the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014, news sources report. The talks, which will tackle thorny questions like immunity for U.S. troops and the number of that will remain in the country, could last up to a year.

These talks are have important implications for the winding down of U.S. combat operations and the beginning of the next phase of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. But the U.S.-Afghanistan negotiations are unlikely to make the front page. With so much attention on the Petraeus scandal and Benghazi investigation, the war in Afghanistan will likely continue to go unnoticed.

Overlooking the war in Afghanistan is a mistake, and one that will cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.

Many Americans seem to believe that the war in Afghanistan is over. This is an understandable mistake; most policymakers don’t talk about the fact that 68,000 U.S. troops are still fighting in Afghanistan.

Many also forget about the war because they believe it will end soon. In fact, the U.S. has committed to withdrawing its 68,000 combat troops by the end of 2014, over two years from now. The pace of the drawdown is still undecided, as is the number of U.S. military trainers and special operations forces that will remain after 2014.

The large U.S. military presence has come at a high price: $13.2 billion per month in 2011, $10.5 billion per month billion in 2012, and an estimated $8.1 billion per month in 2013, according to administration budget figures.

Experts say sustaining 20,000 troops could cost $25 billion per year. Adding several billion each year for security and economic aid, and annual war costs could reach $30 billion. War costs, already nearing $600 billion, will continue to add up over the next several years.

Congress will play a key role in reining in wasteful spending in Afghanistan. Already some who previously supported continuing the war have recognized the ineffectiveness of the current strategy and called for an accelerated drawdown.

Other members of Congress, however, continue to believe that a large military presence will solve Afghanistan’s problems. They equate withdrawal with retreat, believing that more troops and more money will somehow lead to victory.

In fact, the past eleven years have shown that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has been counterproductive. When the U.S. increased troop levels, insurgent attacks increased. When the U.S. poured billions of dollars into unsustainable projects, it created an aid bubble that will burst when international funding dries up.

If U.S. policymakers don’t step up and fix the wasteful strategy in Afghanistan, U.S. taxpayers will end up paying the price.

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One Response to U.S. Taxpayers Pay the Price for Wasteful War Strategy

  1. Mohamed Cassam says:

    Officialy we are in Afghanistan to eliminate Al Qaeda. A bunch of terrorists ttat peak on 9/10/01 didn’t even number 1000 mostly Saudui Wahabis. Last year Don Leone Panattone, then capo di capi at CIA now First Warlord of the Exceptional Empire, told us that AQ now numbered just 50, all in Waziristan, on the otherside of the border in Pakistan

    So our almighty military had taken 10 years and $1 trillion to kill at most 950 AQs, almost a billion each. Surely our valiant generals are the stupidest white men in uniform. Totally absorbed in enriching themselves and their class and caste in the military-industrial-security complex.Oblivious to the reality that they are ruining both Afghanistan and above all the US. In short acting as AQ’s force multipliers. Per Sun Tzu’s dictum “weaken the enemy, let him bleed himself”.

    Google Edward Gibbon “History of the Fall of the Roman Empire” Althogh first published in 1776, the analogies to the US today are striking.

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