Afghan war costs now outpace Iraq’s

President Obama made clear Wednesday that the U.S. presence in
Afghanistan would remain long after troops are withdrawn, a process he
hopes to begin in July 2011.

By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan, driven by
troop increases and fighting on difficult terrain, has topped Iraq costs
for the first time since 2003 and shows no sign of letting up.

Pentagon spending in February, the most recent month available, was
$6.7 billion in Afghanistan compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq. As
recently as fiscal year 2008, Iraq was three times as expensive; in
2009, it was twice as costly.

The shift is occurring because the Pentagon is adding troops in
Afghanistan and withdrawing them from Iraq. And it’s happening as the
cumulative cost of the two wars surpasses $1 trillion, including
spending for veterans and foreign aid. Those costs could put increased
pressure on President Obama and Congress, given the nation’s $12.9
trillion debt.

“The overall costs are a function, in part, of the number of
troops,” says Linda Bilmes, an expert on wartime spending at Harvard
University. “The costs are also a result of the intensity of operations,
and the number of different places that we have our troops deployed.”

Obama made clear Wednesday that the U.S. role in Afghanistan would
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