Price of US Wars: $1 Trillion and Rising

Direct Spending Reaches New Milestone

The Congressional Budget Office’s newly released budget outlook notes that Congress has approved over $1 trillion in direct spending on wars and war-related activities since 2001, and that price tag is only getting higher as the wars drag on.

The spending was divided between $708 billion for the Iraq War, $345 billion for the Afghan War, and $22 billion for assorted other war activities in other countries. The Obama Administration’s repeated projections of a lower budget output for wars in coming years aside, they show no sign of slowing.

The estimated price tag only includes direct costs incurred as a result of the US occupations of those nations, and does not include the trillions of other dollars spent on the military since 2001.

Nor does it include the overall cost of the war to the American economy, a figure economists put at several trillion dollars years ago, and which has only risen as the US presence overseas continues to grow.

The US currently has over 100,000 troops in Iraq, and the escalation in Afghanistan will soon have America’s commitment there near 100,000 as well. The Obama Administration has projected cuts to the Iraq force since taking office, but recent bombings have raised serious doubts about America’s ability to withdraw from the nation, years after both parties agreed that the war was successfully “won.” Troop numbers in Afghanistan will likely continue to rise for the forseeable future.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.