No end in sight as Pentagon reports Afghan war costing $45 billion per year
The U.S. will spend $45 billion on military operations in Afghanistan in 2018, Defense Department’s top Asia official told Senate lawmakers on Tuesday.
Randall Schriver, the assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said the figure includes roughly $13 billion for U.S. forces in the country, $5 billion for Afghan forces, $780 million for economic aid and the rest for logistical support.
US lawmakers were critical of the 2018 costs and questioned whether the administration’s plan will force the Taliban to the table for peace talks and end the war, now in its 17th year.
Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, meanwhile, questioned why the Taliban would want a political settlement as they “now control more territory than they did since 2001” when the United States invaded the country after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Tens of billions are “just being thrown down a hatch in Afghanistan,” said Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. “We’re in an impossible situation. I see no hope for it.”
However, the costs now are still significantly lower than during the high point of the war in Afghanistan. During 2010 to 2012, when the U.S. Army had as many as 100,000 soldiers in the country, the price for American taxpayers surpassed $100 billion each year. Currently, there are around 16,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
In August, U.S. President Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy, in which he pledged to continue support for the Afghan government and military in their fight against the ongoing militant insurgency aggravated by an unstable political, social and security situation.
President Trump also announced that he would double down on the war, increasing the number of American troops in the country by nearly 6,000—for a total of 14,000—in order “to finish what we have to finish.”