By COLIN CLARK
WASHINGTON: US operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or whatever we’re calling it these days have probably cost the country about $100 million so far, according to one of the top defense budget experts. “t’s difficult to come up with a precise estimate for what current operations in Iraq are costing the U.S. military. I suspect it is in the range of $100 million or so,” Todd Harrison, the budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, a think tank and consulting operation, said in en email. That may not put much of a dent in the budget. “But to put this in context, DoD was already planning to spend more than $800 million in Iraq in 2014 for security cooperation and other activities not related to the current situation. DoD is spending roughly $1.3 billion per week emphases added on Afghanistan, so the bill for Iraq is tiny in comparison.” Harrison thinks that “may well mean” the Pentagon will not have to go to Capitol Hill for more money. Harrison notes that the Obama administration asked for the $5 billion in the fiscal 2015 budget request to combat terrorism. “It seems like battling ISIS is exactly the kind of thing that fund should be used to support, so I don’t see why they would need more funding than already requested,” he writes. As a reminder of the enormous costs of deploying large number of ground troops, Harrison points to the costs of troops in Iraq. Every 1,000 troops cost about $600 million per year. “So if we were to deploy 10,000 troops, for example, it would cost around $6B per year to support them. The sheer cost of deploying ground troops to a country like Iraq is a major obstacle to using ground forces — not just in this situation but in a wide range of scenarios.” The Army needs to take note.