The war in Afghanistan will cost $45 billion this year, according to Randall Schriber, the assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs.
$13 billion of this will go to U.S. forces in the country, with $5 billion for Afghan forces, $780 million for economic aid and the rest for logistical support.
This $45 billion is just this year’s portion of the new strategy President Trump announced six months ago. Trump’s plan calls for increased U.S. military commitment in the region, along with an increase of 8,400 to 14,000 troops.
Schriver, who spoke before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, was not able to offer an estimate on the total cost estimate for the new strategy.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioned the estimated 2018 costs. Lawmakers asked whether the new plan will force the Taliban to the table for peace talks and an end to the war. 2018 will mark the 17th year of the Afghanistan war.
But if it’s up to Trump, talking to the Taliban is out of the question. According to the president, “There’s no talking to the Taliban. We don’t want to talk to the Taliban.”
Many disagree with him. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) believes that billions are “just being thrown down a hatch in Afghanistan” and that “We’re in an impossible situation.” Paul believes our national security is being compromised the longer we stay in the country and that a military solution is probably not possible.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) pointed out that the Taliban may not want to settle at all, since they “now control more territory than they did since 2001” when the United States first invaded the country.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan insists that this new plan is an improvement, and “Our security interests in Afghanistan, in the region or significant enough…to back the Afghan government in their struggle against the Taliban.”
Meanwhile there is a great discrepancy in how many Taliban fighters remain in the country, with NBS News reporting as many as 60,000, and the Pentagon insisting that it is less than 15,000.”