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Brain Fodder
Posted by bdf in National Security
Thu Dec 03rd 2009, 01:23 PM
The newly-announced surge in Afghaninam is going to cost $300 billion a year in US troops. How much more in "contractors" (i.e., mercenaries) we don't know. But let's ignore that for a moment.

This figure comes from the fact that it costs around $1 million/year per solder in Afghaninam. Pundits keep emphasizing this. But they're missing something.

There are estimated to be no more than 100 al Qaeda in Afghaninam. That means the US will be spending an extra $300 million per year to wipe out each al Qaeda member (assuming the mission accomplishes its objectives of wiping them all out, which is unlikely).

Factor in the costs of the troops already there (about 38,000) and in 18 months the US will be spending $680 million/year per al Qaeda member. That assumes the US doesn't kill any of them. If, say, the US manages to wipe out half of al Qaeda by then, the cost will be $1.36 billion per year on each remaining al Qaeda member.

And that still hasn't factored in the costs of the mercenaries (who are better paid than US forces).

There must be better ways of spending that amount of money to accomplish the same ends (and without more US deaths).
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