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War Costs and Context

November 4, 2005—Spending on US military operations in Southwest Asia has followed an uneven course.  As can be seen in the Government Accountability Office chart, the US launched military action in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.  War costs were relatively low for a year, then rose steeply as the US built up for the war in Iraq, fought it, and then became engaged in a bloody campaign against irregular forces in Iraq.  Now, however, the cost of war seems to have reached a plateau at some $71 billion per year, the approximate figure expended for the past two years. To put these figures in context: Current costs amount to about six-tenths of one percent of annual US Gross Domestic Product.

Source: Government Accountability Office, "Global War on Terrorism: DOD Needs To Improve the Reliability of Cost Data and Provide Additional Guidance to Control Costs," September 2005.