The U.S. government has spent a staggering $1.46 trillion on wars abroad since September 11, 2001, according to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) periodical “Cost of War” report. As International Business Times reports, this amounts to $250 million a day for 16 years consecutively.
The newly released version, published by the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News blog, spans war-related activity from the September 11th terrorist attacks through mid-2017.
According to the report, despite the fact that the war on terror is still ongoing rapidly to this day, Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011) and Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-2014) account for the vast majority of the cost, amounting to more than $1.3 trillion collectively.
It must be noted that this analysis only covers direct war-related expenses and is certainly on the lower side of such estimates of the cost of American wars to date. For example, in 2014, a report from Congress’ nonpartisan research arm found that the government had already shelled out over $1.6 trillion for the war on terror. That estimate would amount to approximately $337 million per day every single day for that 13-year period.
Last year, a report released by Dr. Neta Crawford, professor of political science at Brown University, found that spending by the United States Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and Veteran Affairs since 9/11 was even higher, reaching almost $5 trillion.
That being said, the DoD’s recent report mainly covers the costs of military operational costs, support for deployed troops, and transportation of personnel and equipment. It does not include the expense of veterans’ benefits for troops who served in these wars. The cost of veterans’ benefits alone is projected to be somewhere between $600 billion and $1 trillion. The total also notably does not include “non-DoD classified programs” such as those conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency, which, as we know, has a significant budget of its own.
Further, war zones where the U.S. military has been actively engaged in recent years, such as Libya and Somalia, did not even receive specific mentions in the report. If $250 million a day for a 16-year period already sounds far too much to be spending on death and destruction, one can be assured that the true financial cost of the war on terror is, in reality, much higher.
As International Business Times explained, the war on terror has become America’s costliest war since World War II:
“According to the Congressional Research Service, the only war in U.S. history to cost more than the Global War on Terror is World War II, at more than $4.1 trillion in present dollars. Direct war-related expenses from the Vietnam War cost $738 billion in today’s dollars.”