The New Price Tag for the U.S. War Against ISIS
Policy + Politics

The New Price Tag for the U.S. War Against ISIS

The fight against ISIS is already expensive. As of August 28, the United States had spent $560 million fighting the group, and continues to spend $7.5 million each day on operations in Iraq. According to a defense spending expert, the price tag is about to go up.

Gordon Adams, the go-to guy in Washington on DOD’s budget, previously told The Fiscal Times that the mission to stop ISIS would cost between $10 billion and $15 billion each year. Now that more details of the plan are known, Adams has revised his estimate -- up.

Related: What ISIS Really Wants (Besides Your Head) 

“I estimate $15-20 [billon] for the operation, on an annual basis,” Adams said in an email. “Front end covered by [the Overseas Contingency Fund] this year; back end by [an Overseas Contingency Fund] amendment or a supplemental sometime next year,” Adams wrote, referring to the fund that pays for DOD’s operations overseas that aren’t contained in the annual budget.

Adams added that he doesn’t see Arab nations being recruited for the fight pitching in much.

“Be nice if the Arab countries paid for it; unlikely.  Hard enough to get them to play at all; they will probably pay their own costs,” he said.

Related: Obama's Use of ISIL, Not ISIS, Tells Another Story

Adams broke down the growing cost of the ISIS fight like this:

  • $8 billion for airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
  • $3 billion for training and equipment for Iraqi ground forces.
  • $1 billion for support for moderate Syrians set to be trained in Saudi Arabia.
  • The rest are unknown costs related to building the coalition. Gordon called the estimate “back of the envelope based on [2011 airstrikes in] Libya and 1990s Iraq theater air ops.”

“Very rough, but in the ballpark,” he added.

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