War costs may top $1 trillion over 10 years

The cost of military operations and diplomatic efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world could top $1 trillion over the next decade, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates provided to the House Budget Committee Tuesday.

The budgetary forecasts hinge largely on the size of the force deployed to Iraq between 2008 and 2017, a matter that Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England told the panel is nearly impossible to predict. “That’s a long way in the future” to estimate both costs and force levels, he said.

But CBO officials, at the request of House Budget Chairman John Spratt, D-S.C., estimated that the total costs of operations would range from $924 billion to just over $1 trillion if the size of the deployed force decreases from 210,000 today to 75,000 by 2013.

That compares to a CBO estimate in February of $840 billion total cost. But if the size of the deployed force shrinks to 30,000 troops by 2010, war costs would range from $481 billion to $603 billion between 2008 and 2017, CBO said Tuesday.

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