Pentagon Reports ISIS Air War Costs Up to $11 Billion

US Planes Destroyed or Damaged About 8,000 Buildings

Two and a half years in and with no end in sight, the cost of the US air war against ISIS continues to rise, with the Pentagon now saying the total cost is around $11 billion, a figure which only includes the direct costs of the military operation, and not the substantial additional costs associated with the conflict.

22% of the cost, or about $2.5 billion, was just the cost of the bombs the US dropped on Iraq and Syria in the course of the war. The rest of the cost included the substant5ial cost of keeping the planes in the air throughout that period, and providing logistics for the protracted air war.

$11 billion is a lot for what President Obama initially presented as a very limited war against ISIS, and one which shows no sign of being anywhere near ending. Since President Trump has promised to eradicate ISIS, it seems unlikely that the air war is going to be wrapping up any time soon.

The figures released alongside the cost report provide a glimpse into the things the US is blowing up in the course of this air war too, which is likely to be a massive add-on cost, as the US will likely be on the hook for reconstruction, particularly in Iraq.

The figures show 164 tanks destroyed in the air war, and nearly 8,000 buildings either destroyed or damaged. Large numbers of oil tankers and a substantial amount of oil infrastructure is also being destroyed in the air war.

On top of that, recent reports have also suggested the cost of replacement munitions is rising, because manufacturers are struggling to make them as fast as the US drops them places. Replacement costs, and reconstruction, are likely to far dwarf the specific operational expenses, despite how much those expenses already are.

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.