During the past six weeks U.S. combat jets have bombed and eliminated 41 Humvees originally given to the Iraqi military, but afterwards captured by ISIS forces. CNNMoney cited a statement from Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, that the bombs that U.S. jets are dropping on the Humvees cost $30,000 each, while the armored vehicles themselves originally cost about $250,000 each, depending how each was equipped.
“In some cases, we have seen instances of ISIL capturing and employing U.S.-made equipment,” a U.S. Defense Department spokesperson told CNN. “When we’ve seen these terrorists employing this equipment, we’ve sought to eliminate that threat.”
Harrison noted that once the United Stats destroys the equipment that it originally supplied to the Iraqi military, it will likely have to replace the armored vehicles. “If we want them [the Iraqi military] to be able to secure their own borders in the long run, we’re going to have to re-equip them,” said Harrison. “So we’ll be buying another Humvee and sending it back to the Iraqi military.”
CNNMoney noted some of the other expenses resulting from our ongoing military operations in Iraq and Syria. The initial assault in Syria used 47 Tomahawk missiles, which cost about $1.5 million each. Among the U.S. aircraft used in the strikes was the F-22 Raptor, which costs about $62,000 an hour to operate.
The House of Representatives voted 273 to 156 on September 17 to provide the U.S. military with the authority to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State or ISIS. The following day, the Senate voted 78-22 in favor of the continuing resolution funding the government, including the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account used to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although “ISIS” (or the government’s preferred abbreviations, “ISIL”) do not appear in the text, funding for the war on ISIS is listed as funding for “Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism.”
CQ Roll Call, the Washington-based newspaper that focuses on political news on Capitol Hill, noted that the CR provides funding for OCO in the amount of $85 billion.
Gordon Adams, who was in charge of national security budgets at the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration, told CQ Roll Call he thinks the total cost of the Obama administration’s war on ISIS could hit $1.5 billion a month — about the size of NASA’s budget.
Adams estimated that the cost of air strikes in Iraq and Syria could cost $10 billion over the next year, assuming this war lasts that long. Other costs, including training, supporting, and equipping “Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels,” could total another $6 billion to $8 billion a year.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, told CQ Roll Call that a vote for the Title 10 authority to equip and train the Syrian rebels would be a vote for war.
“People know what they’re voting on here. I do,” he said September 11. “If I want to make the argument, ‘Oh, it was stuck in the back of the bill, and I never got to that page.’ Try to explain that back home. Folks will remember how you voted on that issue.”
Among the strongest statement made in the Senate against funding the “moderate” Syrian rebels was one made by Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va):
I have seen no evidence that the Syrian rebels we plan to train and arm will remain committed to American goals or interests. The vast majority of national-level Syrian rebel groups are Islamists, none of whom are interested in allying with the United States, and none of whom we should be associating with. Further, the opposition fighters that we will train care more about overthrowing [Bashar] Assad than they do about defeating ISIS. Assad is evil, but he is not a threat to America. If the "moderate opposition" have to choose between defeating Assad and defeating ISIS, why do we believe they’ll choose our priority over theirs? How do we know that they won’t join forces with ISIS if it helps them overthrow Assad?
If the “moderate opposition” decides to jump ship and join forces with ISIS, as Manchin fears, taking equipment paid for by the U.S. taxpayers with them, we can always spend more money to destroy the equipment we already paid for, as we are doing with the Humvees.
As we write, the U.S. National Debt clock shows a figure of $17.757 trillion.