1. Update
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

Costs of War: By the Numbers

October 7, 2011


On October 7, 2001, the United States officially began Operation Enduring Freedom and the war in Afghanistan. Ten years later, the U.S. finds itself struggling to conclude a decade of relentless war that has cost trillions of dollars and an untold number of lives.

While we have begun the process of bringing our troops home, the Pentagon currently plans to maintain tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan, fighting a war that even their commanders admit has only a political solution.

Now it’s time to bring our brothers and sisters home and finally turn the page on a long decade of war.

Talking Points:

U.S. and global security depend on a less militarized foreign policy.

U.S. and global security depend on the effective use of all the diplomatic instruments of our foreign policy. By turning the page on war, the U.S. can focus on 21st century national security solutions, while rebuilding the foundations of U.S. strength and security by growing the U.S. economy, putting Americans back to work, and paying down the federal deficit.

Afghanistan’s future depends on Afghans, not U.S. soldiers.

There is unanimous agreement that the future of Afghanistan depends on Afghans and their regional allies implementing a political solution. There is simply no military solution to the current challenges faced in Afghanistan and maintaining a U.S. military presence only delays the inevitable political process while needlessly putting U.S. troops and innocent civilians in harms way. The U.S. military must leave, but the U.S. should not wholesale abandon Afghanistan. A significantly less expensive political and economic transition strategy will be needed far into the future.

The human and economic costs of a decade of war are simply unsustainable.

Upwards of 30,000 Afghan civilians have been killed since 2001, and an immeasurable number have been wounded. U.S. soldiers have also suffered from a decade of war with over 6,200 dead and nearly 50,000 wounded. Unwilling to pay a cent for the war when the troops were deployed, the price tag for a decade of war is at least $3-5 trillion, paid for entirely on the nation’s credit card. Without a change of policy, America is poised to spend hundreds of billions more in the decade to come, adding to our nation’s deficit and wasting precious resources desperately needed at home.

By the Numbers

Deaths from War

  • 6,251 U.S. troops have been killed in war since 2001 4,474 U.S. troops died in the Iraq War
  • 1,695 American soldiers have died in the war in and around Afghanistan
  • 82 American soldiers have died in other theaters of war
  • 45,170 U.S. troops have been wounded in war since 2001
  • At least 2,300 private contractors working for the Pentagon have died in war since 2001
  • 2010 was deadliest year of war in Afghanistan, with 499 U.S. service members killed
  • 2011 is on pace to be among the deadliest years of the war in Afghanistan, with 325 American deaths since January
  • August 2011 was the deadliest month of entire 10 years of war in Afghanistan
  • In 2009 more U.S. soldiers died from suicide than were killed in combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan

Veterans and Long-Term Effects

  • Roughly 2 million U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan 1.2 million are now eligible for VA services 600,000 veterans have already been treated at veterans medical facilities
  • Nearly 50% of returning troops are eligible for some level of disability payment
  • Future disability and health-care costs for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is conservatively estimated to be $600-900 billion
  • Over 4,000 young veterans have died since returning home, many as a result of suicide, drug overdose, or vehicle crashes
  • It is estimated that 1 in 3 soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan will develop PTSD
  • The Rand Corporation has estimated that approximately 320,000 service members may have experienced traumatic brain injury during their deployment.
  • On average 18 veterans die from suicide every day

Spending on War

Total cost for war a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq: $4-6 Trillion

FY2012 Funding Request: $119 Billion

FY2012 Breakdown (an approximation):

  • $10 Billion per month
  • $2.3 Billion per week
  • $326 Million per day
  • $13.6 Million per hour
  • $226,000 per minute

FCNL and Win Without War worked together to produce this document as a resource to members of Congress and their staff for tenth anniversary events in the House. Please refer to updated numbers at costofwar.org.