The U.S. Defense Department is spending about $7.5 million a day on military operations to combat Islamic extremists in northern Iraq, an official said.
“The cost of ongoing activities in Iraq … has varied since the beginning in mid-June but, on average, it’s costing about $7.5 million per day,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Friday during a briefing with reporters.
It was the first time a U.S. official detailed the price tag of the mission to launch airstrikes against the al Qaeda-splinter group, Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant, or ISIL, and provide humanitarian assistance to displaced Iraqi minorities. Military.com’s Richard Sisk has the story here.
Kirby’s figure puts the cumulative cost of the operations from June 16 through Aug. 26 — slightly more than two months — at more than a $500 million.
President Barack Obama in June ordered military advisers into the country and in early August authorized airstrikes against the militants and airdrops to provide food and water to Iraqi civilians trapped by the terrorist group, which controls swaths of Iraq and Syria.
“It didn’t start out at $7.5 million per day,” Kirby said. “It’s been—as our [operational tempo] and as our activities have intensified, so too has the cost.”
Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, on Wednesday told Military.com that he estimated the cost of the airstrikes alone at more than $100 million.
Harrison estimated the cost of the airstrikes between $74 million and $110 million, including between $56 million and $83 million for more than 1,200 surveillance sorties, between $14 million and $21 million on munitions, and between $4 million and $6 million for about 100 strike sorties.
The Pentagon’s overall price tag indicates the mission may cost as much as, or even more than, the U.S.-led intervention in Libya in 2011, which totaled almost $1 billion in less than five months.
“We have upped our presence in the Persian Gulf,” Kirby said. “We have intensified surveillance flights over Iraq. We have conducted nearly 110 … airstrikes inside Iraq. So believe me, this building and the United States military shares the same sense of urgency over the situation in Iraq and the threat that ISIL poses.”