As the U.S. prepares to send more troops to Afghanistan to combat ISIS and the Taliban, and the specter of a war hangs over every tweet the President writes about North Korea, it’s important to remember that the U.S. has been fighting in and bombing several countries in the Middle East and Asia for 16 years. According to a new study, all that war has cost the U.S. taxpayers $5.6 trillion, which is over three times what the Pentagon estimates.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the study, conducted by researchers at Brown University led by Neta Crawford, “aims to reflect costs the Pentagon doesn’t include in its own calculations, since war costs aren’t borne by the Defense Department alone.” Here’s more:
“War costs are more than what we spend in any one year on what’s called the pointy end of the spear,” Crawford said in an interview. “There are all these other costs behind the spear, and there are consequences of using it, that we need to include.”
For example, the study’s estimates include recurring expenses such as long-term medical care for veterans and war costs incurred by the State Department. Costs also reflect related spending by the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and others.
The study does not include costs for U.S. aid to countries like the Philippines or partners in Europe or for operations in Africa.
Democrat Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed said it was critical for studies like this one to be produced as Congress debates “budgets, tax cuts and wartime policies,” especially since the interest for the money borrowed to fight the war could add trillions to the national deficit by itself.
Moreover, as costs for the Veterans Affairs Administration rise while Vietnam veterans age, those costs will continue to increase as veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other (future?) theaters of war grow older, too.
This article originally appeared on InformationClearingHouse.info.