Cost Comparison

Comparing the Cost of America’s Wars

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans a staggering $1 trillion to date, second only in inflation-adjusted dollars to the $4 trillion price tag for World War II, when the United States put 16 million men and women into uniform and fought on three continents.

A quick calculation shows that the United States has been at war for 47 of its 230 years, or 20 percent of its history. Put another way, Americans have been at war one year out of every five.

21st-century technology is an obvious explanation for why two relatively small (although long) wars in developing societies like Iraq and Afghanistan are so expensive.

Although technology is the driving factor, along with the logistical expense of moving equipment over the treacherous and landlocked Afghan terrain, costs per soldier have also risen because of the price of maintaining a better-trained and higher-paid force. We’re not just pulling random guys off the street and sending them off to war like we did in the past.

Published by: Molly Swander 5/1/13


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