POLITICS - PolitiFact - Military Operations Bulk of Afghanistan Cost

Article excerpt

Sources

Report: Congressional Research Service, "Afghanistan: Post- Taliban Governance, Security and U.S. Policy," May 3, accessed Sept. 4

Report: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, "Quarterly Report to the U.S. Congress," July 30, accessed Sept. 4

Website: PolitiFact.com, "Increase non-military aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion," May 15, accessed Sept. 4

E-mail: Michael O'Hanlon, director of research, senior fellow, Brookings Institution

E-mail: Nicole Kayner, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, Sept. 4

Debate: WPRI.com, "Watch: Cicilline, Gemma bonus debate," about 30 minutes in, Aug. 29

During last week's televised clash between U.S. Rep. David Cicilline and Anthony Gemma, who is challenging Cicilline in the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary, the topic turned to possible ways of cutting the federal deficit.

Cicilline, in the WPRI-TV/Providence Journal debate, urged a swift return of U.S. troops from Afghanistan as one suggestion, noting that "We will spend $100 billion in Afghanistan this year, fixing roads, building bridges, training police officers, and more [and] cutting the same things in our own country."

His message was clear: it is time for the United States to start redirecting that money toward improving America's own crumbling infrastructure - a theme Cicilline has been sounding for months.

But we wondered if the United States was really spending $100 billion a year for Afghan infrastructure and other non-military aid. We called the Cicilline campaign for its supporting evidence and while we waited for a response, did some research.

PolitiFact National examined the subject of non-military aid to Afghanistan in May 2012 when it looked at whether President Obama had kept a campaign promise to increase that aid by another $1 billion to $3 billion. (PolitiFact rated it Promise Kept.)

One source of information PolitiFact National cited was a May 2012 Congressional Research Service report, which found that during fiscal years 2001 through 2011 - a span of a decade - "the Afghan intervention has cost about $443 billion, including all costs."

For fiscal year 2012, which ends Sept. 30, the report says, the United States was expected to spend "about $90 billion" for military operations and another "$16 billion in aid," including training and equipment.

That's far different from $100 billion going to just to infrastructure and non-military projects in one year, as Cicilline seemed to be implying.

According to a July quarterly report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which keeps a running tab of the war's costs for Congress, "the President's FY 2013 budget request includes nearly $9.7 billion to strengthen the Afghan security forces during this critical transition period and to fund programs to build governing capacity, promote economic development, and counter the drug trade. …