Defense costs: Vietnam and Iraq

Photo Illustration by Carey Wilson

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent group that analyzes U.S. Department of Defense budgets and expenditures, recently released a report stating that the financial cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the official name for the war in Iraq, is going up and up. In 2003, it was $43 billion; in 2004, $59 billion; in 2005, $81 billion; and in 2006, it is expected to be $94 billion, once Congress passes the various supplemental appropriations the Pentagon is seeking. This compares to an average of $61 billion annually, in today’s dollars, that the United States spent in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972. A comparison of the peak years of the Vietnam War, 1967-72, with the Iraq War years through a projected 2008 shows that overall Department of Defense spending is up, too, as these figures, adjusted for inflation, indicate.