U.S. Price Tag for War on ISIS Now More than $3 Billion
Policy + Politics

U.S. Price Tag for War on ISIS Now More than $3 Billion


The U.S. price tag for waging war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since last summer just breached the $3 billion level, with the budget for attacking the massive terrorist organization likely to grow substantially as American forces pick up the pace of jet airstrikes and drone attacks.

Turkey’s government agreed last week to allow the U.S. to launch both manned and unmanned military strikes against ISIS inside Turkey, a major breakthrough for the U.S. and its allies that have been constrained in launching fighter jets from aircraft carriers in the Gulf. Now U.S.-led forces can use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, which is strategically located near the Turkish-Syrian border, to better bear down on ISIS forces and emplacements in that region.

Related: After Hanging Back, Cameron Vows to Escalate Air Strikes Against ISIS

Air operations, including US-led air attacks against ISIS, account for most of the big spend, which has exceeded $3.21 billion since operations began last August. Defense Department records confirm that daily operations average $9.9 million a day, up from $9.4 million since “Operation Inherent Resolve” began.

The breakdown of expenses is as follows, according to DOD:

  • Air operations: 53 percent
  • Munitions and operational support: 23 percent each

If the war escalates or if the U.S. needs to pump up the power and resources, annual costs skyrocket into the tens of billions of dollars.

Related: The New U.S. Price Tag for the War Against ISIS: $40 Billion a Year

ISIS has proved to be a formidable and ruthless opponent, and the U.S. led effort has had mixed results at best in pushing them back. A DOD analysis accompanying the budget figures, however, shows “ISIS can no longer operate freely in roughly 25 to 30 percent of populated areas of Iraqi territory where it once could.”

The DOD tally of the successes of Operation Inherent Resolve, as the war effort is called, shows U.S.-led air forces have destroyed 7,655 targets, including 1,859 ISIS fighting positions, 2,045 buildings, 472 staging areas, 325 Humvees, 98 tanks and 154 oil infrastructure sites.