Friday, February 3, 2017

US bombing in Syria and Iraq cost $11 billion so far

After two and a half years of fighting the Islamic State through an air war the costs to the United States is huge. So far the total cost is estimated at about $11 billion but this includes only the costs of the military operations not other costs.

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About $2.5 billion was spent for bombs, about 22 percent of the total costs for the air war in Iraq and Syria. The remainder of the costs included expenses for keeping the planes in the air and for logistics. Obama had presented the air attacks as a very limited war but the cost is building and the war seems far from over yet. Donald Trump has promised to eradicate the Islamic State and so the expenditures are not likely to end anytime soon. The attacks are destroying a great deal of infrastructure. The U.S. may be asked to help finance reconstruction especially in Iraq. The costs of replacing munitions and of reconstruction my be larger than the cost of the original operations.
The average daily cost of operations as of December 15, 2016 was $12.5 million for 861 days of operation. The cost rose from the $5.5 billion that had been spent up to the same period last year. Operation Inherent Resolve began in June 2014. About two thirds of the costs, more than $8 billion fell to the Air Force. The Army accounted for 17 percent. The Navy was 12 percent and the Special Operations Command was eight percent. There were more than 17,000 strikes. Munitions represented 22 percent of costs, and logistical support 19 percent.
One of the largest airstrikes was against IS in Palmyra Syria back on December 8th last year. Officials claimed it destroyed 168 enemy oil tankers and the following day attacks destroyed 20 more operating in the area. Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, said that the operation code-named Olympus had been planned for two weeks. Harrigan said: “There would be a larger strategic message we sent to them: Nice try. We found you. Keep trying to hide; we will hunt you down again.” Last summer was the busiest time ever in the bombing operation. June was the busiest month for the campaign. A variety of aircraft are used including the F-SE Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, B-52 Stratofortress, and F-22 Raptors, as well as several types of drones and reconnaissance aircraft.
During the opening three days of the Mosul offensive last November U.S. bombs fell on the city at the rate of about one bomb every eight minutes. Colonel Daniel Manning said that the volume of strikes set the operation apart from others. He said it was rare to have such a concentration of precision-guided weapons used over a whole city for such an extended length of time. The Islamic State has now lost about half of the territory it had taken in 2014.


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