Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Article excerpt

How Much Will War With Iraq Cost?

The Democratic members of the House Budget Committee released a report analyzing the potential costs of a war in Iraq.

"The initial military operation alone could cost $48 billion to $93 billion, if 10-year interest costs are included," said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C. However, it is understood that "an initial military victory would be only one stage of action against Iraq, and that other costs would be incurred," he said. Other costs could include U.S. peacekeeping, occupation or humanitarian forces.

The estimate "assumes a war lasting 30 to 60 days and a U.S. force ranging from 125,000 to 250,000," Spratt said. "Moreover, the analysis assumes U.S. military operations will go as they went during the Persian Gulf War, with inept enemy forces, no use of chemical or biological weapons, access to bases and airspace in most Gulf states and Turkey, and low casualties on our side. ... Any or all of these variables could change for the worse, and if so, costs could be significantly higher than estimated."

Spratt's estimates differ greatly from those by the Congressional Budget Office. Dan Crippen, director of the CBO, said that war costs "depend on many factors that are unknown at this time, including the size of the actual force that is deployed, the strategy to be used, the duration of the conflict, the number of casualties, the equipment lost, and the need for reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure."

CBO estimated that the incremental costs of deploying a force to the Persian Gulf (the costs that would be incurred above those budgeted for routine operations) would be between $9 billion and $13 billion. Prosecuting a war would cost between $6 billion and $9 billion a month-although CBO cannot predict how long such a war is likely to last.

"After hostilities end, the costs to return U.S. forces to their home bases would range between $5 billion and $7 billion," said Crippen. Further, the incremental cost of an occupation following combat operations could vary from about $1 billion to $4 billion a month.

Congressman: Don't Give Away Our Technology

The U.S. government still does not have adequate technology transfer policies, said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.

"On the one hand, we are asking countries to commit to taking on Saddam Hussein. On the other hand we're transferring deadly technologies to the same guys, through the same channels that have been used in the past," he said during a recent breakfast with defense executives. "We ought to have sanctions in place for countries who sell technology to our adversaries. …

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