The Cost of War: Counting Our Pennies

Earlier this week, the Department of Defense published a report on the cost of our war with ISIS. The report was delivered by "independent defense analysts" who considered "a range of potential operations and various durations..." The Defense Department itself is working on a "long-term assessment" of the potential costs involved in a war against the Islamic Fundamentalists.

The experts' report, according to InsideDefense, suggested that on an annualized basis, the cost "could range from $2.4B to $22B annually." They divided their reports between "lower-intensity air operations," which could cost $2.4B to $3.8B per year"; higher-intensity air operations" which could cost $4.2 to $6.8B and finally to "deployment of a larger ground contingent [that] could drive annual costs as high as $13 billion to $22 billion..."

The third scenario assumes that 25,000 US ground troops would be involved in battle, that our planes would fly 150 sorties a day and that we would attack 200 targets per month.

My quarrel with this is it's all assumptions, assumptions, assumptions. InsideDefense points out that the Iraq war costs "[p]eaked at $164 million in fiscal year 2008 while costs in Afghanistan were $122 billion in Afghanistan in FY-11 [Financial Year 2011]."

The truest point in the report "notes the wide variance in the cost estimates 'highlight the high degree of uncertainty involved in current operations.'" I read that the defense analysts are just offering their best guess as to what the costs will be. They do not even guess at "another key issue that will impact cost is the 'desired end states in both Iraq and Syria,' what Washington would like to leave behind after ISIL [ISIS] 'if and when the group is defeated.'"

It's hard for me to understand why we're guessing at the numbers we're going to spend in the battle against ISIS. We've had enough experience in Iraq and Afghanistan that unless we follow the old British proverb "in for a penny, in for a pound," we're not going to win a war with ISIS. The president has already entered the war -- he's involved America in an historic event that may decide the future of the Middle East and all of Islam. I suggest that instead of counting the "pennies," we "pound" away at ISIS on behalf of the western world.