Troop Levels in the Afghan and Iraq Wars,
FY2001-FY2012: Cost and Other Potential
Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget
July 2, 2009
Congressional Research Service
Easy to read PDF format with 72 pages of precise statistics, graphs, charts, and text showing the number of troops involved and the number of dollars spent in regard to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
In February and March 2009, the Obama Administration announced its plans to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and decrease troop levels in Iraq. In Afghanistan, 30,000 more troops are deploying this year while in Iraq, troops will gradually decline to 35,000 to 50,000 by August 31, 2011 with all troops to be out of Iraq by December 31, 2011. The most commonly cited measure of troop strength is “Boots on the Ground” or the number of troops located in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Based on average monthly Boots on the Ground figures, the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq increased from 5,200 in FY2002 to a peak of 187,900 in FY2008 primarily
because of increases in Iraq beginning with the invasion in March 2003. In FY2009, total troop strength is expected to remain the same as planned increases in Afghanistan offset declines in Iraq. By FY2012, overall troop strength for the two wars is likely to decline to 67,500 when the withdrawal from Iraq is expected to be complete.
For Afghanistan, troops in-country grew gradually from 5,200 in FY2002 to 20,400 in FY2006. Between FY2006 and FY2008, average strength there jumped by another 10,000 to 30,100. Under the Administration’s plans, CRS estimates that average monthly Boots on the Ground in Afghanistan may increase to 50,700 in FY2009 with a further increase to 63,500 the following year once all new units are in place. Currently, additional increases have not been approved. For Iraq, troops in-country nearly doubled between FY2003 and FY2004 reaching 130,600. By
the following year, average strength grew by another 13,000 to 143,800, with that level maintained in FY2006. During the surge in troops initiated by President Bush, average troop strength in Iraq grew by 7,000 or 6% in FY2007 and another 9,500 or 9% in FY2008, reaching a peak of 157,800. CRS estimates that average troop strength in Iraq will decline to 135,600 in
FY2009, 88,300 in FY2010, 42,800 in FY2011, and 4,100 in FY2012. While it is not clear whether war costs will change precisely in tandem with troop levels, these changes can provide a benchmark to assess requests. Based on changes in troop levels and other adjustments, CRS estimates that war costs could be about $8 billion less than the Department of Defense (DOD) $141 billion request for FY2009, and about $13 billion below its $130 billion request for FY2010. For the next year, FY2011, CRS estimates that DOD’s requests could be $42 billion more than the current planning figure of $50 billion. And in FY2012, CRS estimates war costs could be $20 billion higher than the Administration’s estimate of $50 billion.
Although Boots on the Ground is the most commonly cited measure of troop strength, that measure does not include over 100,000 other troops deployed in the region providing theater-wide support for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the Afghan War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the Iraq War. Before the 9/11 attacks, the United States had deployed about 26,000 troops in the Central Command region, which includes Afghanistan and Iraq. Based on the most comprehensive DOD measure of troop strength, 294,000 troops were deployed for OEF and OIF as of December 2008, a tenfold increase since 2001.This more inclusive measure may more accurately capture the overall demand for troops. The Administration has not indicated how its plans would affect troops providing support in the region. Using five DOD sources, this report
describes, analyzes, and estimates the number of troops deployed for each war from the 9/11 attacks to FY2012 to help Congress assess upcoming DOD war funding requests as well as the implications for the long-term U.S. presence in the region.
This report ranks right up at the top of all the reports I have read concerning Troop levels and the cost of maintaining those levels. My motivation for researching this topic is the fact that our Nation’s Middle Class is mostly responsible for supplying boots on the ground and the money to carry out their mission. The more I dig; the more I realize that my prediction of two years ago is not very far off the mark. I predicted back then that we would spend approximately $3.4 TRILLION on both conflicts. If you read this report carefully, you get a very clear picture of all the primary, secondary, and tertiary costs.
At a time when we can least afford it, those friendly folks down in Washington, D.C. are still spending our tax dollars like there’s no tomorrow. There are some big ticket programs we need to spend money on; this is not one of them.