Each U.S. Troop in Afghanistan Costs $2.1 Million

Though the Pentagon says it's a reflection of sending people and equipment home, investments in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance remain high. 
Jake Beaudoin, a U.S. Army Private, takes cover during a controlled detonation to clear an area in Zahri district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

The average cost of each U.S. troop—that is, each military member—in Afghanistan will nearly double in the last year of the war to $2.1 million, according to a new analysis of the Pentagon’s budget. 

For the past five years, from fiscal 2008 through 2013, the average troop cost had held steady at roughly $1.3. million. But the Pentagon’s 2014 war budget would dramatically increase that figure. The added cost, argue Defense Department officials, is a reflection of the price of sending troops and equipment back home in the drawdown.

Not so, says Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis’ Todd Harrison. He doesn’t buy that excuse, and argued on Thursday that the U.S. has been moving far greater amounts of troops and equipment in those previous budget years. Instead, he said, as the number of U.S. troops decline, the overhead cost to support the war and the Afghan forces that the U.S. continues to underwrite remains relatively stable. 

“It was a bit of a shocker to me,” Harrison said. The budget analyst said costs like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, as well as the support structure for troop life remains high, compared to the total personnel number dip. 


This post was originally published at Defense One.

Presented by

Kevin Baron is executive editor of Defense One

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This wildly inventive short film takes you on a whirling, spinning tour of the Big Apple

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Global

Just In