The final bill for U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan could be as much as $4.4 trillion, according to a comprehensive report Tuesday.
In the 10 years since American troops were sent into Afghanistan, the federal government has already spent $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion, say the authors of the study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.
The report calculates not only direct spending on the conflicts but also the long-term costs of caring for wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012-20.
At a minimum, according to the authors of the study, the final cost for these military engagements will be $3.7 trillion. But the report also points out that their estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments and other costs that cannot yet be quantified. Indeed, the report criticized the U.S. Congress and the Pentagon for poor accounting.
Although the number of U.S. soldiers killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been made public, the report notes, it is not yet clear how many soldiers return to the United States with injuries and illnesses. New disability claims are submitted on an ongoing basis, and many injuries among U.S. contractors have not been reported publicly, further complicating calculations of the costs of war.