U.S. has Spent $1.5 Trillion on Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Memorial in Iraq for U.S. Marines killed. AP photographer Anja Nedringhaus, who took this picture, later died in Afghanistan. (AP photo)

For anyone wondering how much the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans taxpayers, the latest total for direct costs is $1.5 trillion, according to a report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.


Although the Iraq war has been technically over for a few years now, it still was the more costly of the two conflicts. Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn consumed $815 billion, or 51% of the total, CRS analyst Amy Belasco wrote.


As for Operation Enduring Freedom, which is still ongoing, the cost of American involvement in Afghanistan is now up to $686 billion.


Another $27 billion went towards Operation Noble Eagle (ONE) to bolster security at U.S. military bases, and $81 billion “for war-designated funding not considered directly related to the Afghanistan or Iraq wars,” per Belasco.


Of the $1.6 trillion total, about 92% goes directly to the Department of Defense, 6% pays for State Department diplomatic and foreign aid costs, and 5% goes toward expenses “tangentially-related to war operations." That leaves 1% for the medical care of U.S. war veterans.


The human cost of the two wars for Americans, according to Bloomberg, has been:



4,491 deaths

32,244 wounded



2,356 deaths

20,060 wounded (as of December16)


As a result of both wars, there are also 128,496 U.S. service members who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the Defense Medical Surveillance System.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11 (by Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)

Wars’ Cost to U.S. Since the Sept. 11 Attacks: $1.6 Trillion (by Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg)

How Much Does a U.S. War Cost? Ask Again in a Hundred Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Cost of U.S. Wars: $4 Trillion and 225,000 Dead (by Noel Brinkerhoff,



Bob Wilson 9 years ago
The Stiglitz and Bilmes estimate of a few years ago was much higher than this and it would be interesting to compare the methodology, even though the subject is very depressing. I know S&B cover lifetime costs involving veterans and I expect the CRS methodology does not. Plus we are now many years of spending past that original $3 trillion estimated by S&B.

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