Iraq War news

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Iraq war puts US coffers under siege - World -

Iraq war puts US coffers under siege - World - "AMERICA'S annual war expenditure in Iraq has nearly doubled since the US invasion as the military confronts the rapidly escalating cost of repairing, rebuilding and replacing equipment chewed up by three years of combat.

The number of US lives lost has fallen this year but the financial cost continues to climb, from $US48 billion ($A64.5 billion) in 2003 to an anticipated $US94 billion this year, according to the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Annual war costs in Iraq are easily outpacing the $US61 billion a year that the US spent in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972, in today's dollars. The invasion's 'shock and awe' has long faded but the costs of even those early months are just coming into view as the military confronts long-avoided equipment repair and rebuilding costs and unexpected procurement costs."

"We did not predict early on that we would have the number of electronic jammers that we've got. We did not predict we'd have as many (heavily) armoured vehicles … nor did we have a good prediction about what our battle losses would be," US Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The issue will be hotly debated next week when the Senate takes up a record $US106.5 billion emergency spending bill that includes $US72.4 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House of Representatives passed a $US92 billion version of the bill last month that included $US68 billion in war funding. That is on top of $US50 billion already allocated for the war this fiscal year.

Senate Democrats say that they will vote for the measure, but the debate will offer war opponents ample opportunity to question the Bush Administration's funding priorities.

Defence officials and budget analysts point to a simple, unavoidable driver of the escalating costs. At roughly $US15 billion, personnel costs will drop 14 per cent this year. But the cost of repairing and replacing equipment and developing new war-fighting materiel has exploded.

In the first year of the invasion, such costs totalled $US2.4 billion. This year, they will hit $US26 billion and could go as high as $US30 billion, said Steven Kosiak, from the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Gary Motsek, director of support operations at the Army Materiel Command, said of the helicopters, tanks, personnel carriers and small arms being used: "We're working them to death."

In 2001, the army's depots logged 11 million labour hours. This year it will total 24 million.


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