The Numbers Behind the Troop Increase

by Chris Sturr | December 02, 2009

From the indispensable National Priorities Project:

President Barack Obama is making a major policy speech on Afghanistan tonight. According to numerous press reports, this speech will include his intention to significantly increase the number of U.S. forces deployed in the region to conduct combat operations and assist with the training of Afghanistan’s national security forces.

The following are quick facts about the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan.

Funding Additional Troops

U.S. Troop Levels in Afghanistan—historical data
Annual Funding for U.S. Combat Operations in Afghanistan
Figures of U.S. Military Fatalities in Afghanistan
Link to NPP’s “Cost of War” Counter
Issues to Consider As Troop Levels Increase
– Funding for Military vs. Non-military Activities
– Reliance on Private Contractors
– Stress on the “Total Force”
– Staffing a “Civilian Surge”
Additional Resources

Funding Additional Troops

Prior to Fiscal Year 2010, combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have been funded outside the normal Defense Department budget through “supplemental” spending bills. The Obama Administration pledged that it would end this practice after Fiscal Year 2009 and included, as part of its Fiscal Year 2010 budget request, a $130 billion request for “Overseas Contingency Operations,” the majority of which was dedicated to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Fiscal Year 2010 funding, which awaits final approval from Congress, does not include the funds that will be required to support any further increase in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. Thus it is very likely that the White House will again resort to a supplemental spending bill to secure additional war funding in the coming year.

It has been widely reported in recent weeks that both the Pentagon and the White House estimate that any additional forces sent to Afghanistan will require $1 billion per year for every 1,000 troops sent, or $1 million per soldier.

IN ALL, total funding for Afghanistan could exceed $325 billion in Fiscal Year 2010. (See “Annual Funding for U.S. Combat Operations in Afghanistan” below.)

U.S. Troop Levels in Afghanistan

Troops
2001 N/A
2002 5,200
2003 10,400
2004 15,200
2005 19,100
2006 20,400
2007 23,700
2008 30,100
2009 50,700

(Congressional Research Service estimate, as of July 2009)*

* It has been reported subsequently that there are roughly 62,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan. This number is expected to grow to at least 68,000 by year’s end. ["Gates Says Additional Local Forces May Be Needed In Afghan War," Bloomberg News, September 1, 2009.]

NOTE: The Defense Department reports troop levels involved in military operations in several ways. The figures shown here are taken from the Pentagon’s “Boots on the Ground” (BOG) reports to Congress. They reflect only personnel located in Afghanistan and do not include other personnel deployed as part of Operation “Enduring Freedom,” such as those providing logistical support in neighboring countries.

Source: Troop Levels in the Afghan and Iraq Wars, FY2001-FY2012: Cost and Other Potential Issues, CRS Report R40682, July 2, 2009.

Annual Funding for U.S. Combat Operations in Afghanistan

$ in Billions
2001 N/A
2002 20.8 (See “NOTE” below)
2003 14.7
2004 14.5
2005 20
2006 19
2007 36.9
2008 42.1
2009 60.2
TOTAL 228.2*

* Of the $130 billion for Fiscal Year 2010 operations in Iraq and Afghanistan currently awaiting final approval by Congress, roughly half, or around $65 billion, will likely go to Afghanistan. This additional funding will not cover any further increases in troop levels that President Obama might request. Adding in the cost of 30,000 additional troops (an estimated $30 billion), together with Afghanistan’s portion of the $130 billion, total funding to date for Afghanistan could exceed $325 billion in Fiscal Year 2010.

NOTE: 2002 figure includes both FY 2001 and 2002 funding.

Source: The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,
Congressional Research Service Report RL33110, May 15, 2009.

U.S. Military Fatalities in Afghanistan

U.S. Fatalities
2001 12
2002 49
2003 48
2004 52
2005 99
2006 98
2007 117
2008 155
2009 298*
TOTAL 928

*NOTE: As of November 30, 2009

Source: Icasualties.

NPP’s “Cost of War” Counter—See NPP’s Afghanistan “Cost of War” Counter and calculate the cost of the war to your state (and many cities or towns).

Issues to Consider

Funding for Military vs. Non-military Activities—In addition to increased numbers of combat forces in Afghanistan, President Obama will likely propose greater support for political and economic development. According to the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service (CRS), 95 percent of total funding to date for Afghanistan has supported military operations, while only 5 percent of spending has supported development-related activities.

Reliance on Private Contractors—According to CRS, Defense Department contract employees outnumber U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. As of June of this year, contractors made up 57 percent of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, with 73,968 contractors relative to 55,107 uniformed personnel.

Source: Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis, CRS Report number R40764, September 21, 2009.

Stress on the “Total Force”—Many analysts believe that the U.S. military is already severely stressed by the size and duration of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is unclear what impact deployment of additional troops will have on the military and its ability to respond to events in other regions of the world.

Staffing a “Civilian Surge”—A number of U.S. civilian and military leaders, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, have indicated the need to send large numbers of additional State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development personnel to Afghanistan. Yet it is not clear that the personnel needed for these duties and the funds necessary to support them are available.

Civilian Casualties—the Human Rights Unit of United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan publishes an Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan.

Additional casualty data, plus background information on Afghanistan can be found in The Cost of War in Afghanistan, published jointly by NPP and the American Friends Service Committee.

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