While pinning down an exact number is difficult, especially as the target list is expanding, there are some initial projections on the potential costs of President Obama’s attack on Syria. The Congressional Research Service analysis puts the cost as high as $12 billion for a year’s operation citing estimates by General Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Dempsey also estimated that destroying portions of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles could require more than a billion dollars a month because “hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers” and “thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces” would be needed to secure critical sites. To conduct limited stand-off strikes on important military forces or units (e.g., air defense, ground), military facilities, or headquarters, an option mentioned frequently in current press reports, General Dempsey estimated the cost could be “billions” depending on the duration. The factors affecting cost include the scope of military operations (e.g., the numbers and types of forces used), and the length of the operation, which may, in turn, depend on Syrian and allied responses.
Before strikes can even happen expensive-to-operate military units need to be placed in striking distance and the Raytheon Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (T-LAMs) alone cost $1.4 million, each. It seems defense contractors are getting a good return on their investment – especially in the case of those Senators voting for war. Smedley Butler, call your office.

Brief U.S. military operations to establish a no-fly zone conducted in Libya in 2011 relied almost exclusively on existing appropriations. DOD’s estimated costs were about $800 million, including offsets or savings from lower peacetime flying hours during operations…

However, possible U.S. military intervention in Syria could be significantly different from the 2011 Libyan operation.the scope of operations and costs proved to be larger than the Libyan operation, the Department of Defense could face some difficulties in accommodating costs within its existing budget and shifting funds among activities—particularly in view of sequestration.

This multibillion dollar war will come in the middle of sequestration just as Washington gets ready for its next budget battle. After the costs of Afghanistan, the Department of Homeland Security, and the intelligence budget, it seems there is not much left over for the American people. The National Security State gets a blank check while Social Security and Medicare get put on the chopping block. Not to mention the over 20 million Americans who can’t find a job.

It is time to break America’s addiction to military adventurism, the costs are just too high.

Photo by US Navy under public domain.