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Rep Coffman's Plan to Deploy Troops in Iraq Would Cost $5-50 Billion Per Year

A gunman patrols after clashes with Iraqi security forces outside Fallujah last month (AP Photo).It's amazing that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman's call for the redeployment of troops in Iraq hasn't made news beyond this lowly blog, especially when you consider what's at stake, here at home.

The annual cost to deploy troops in Iraq is roughly $1 million per troop, according to former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag. (That's beyond the incalculable human cost.)

Using this as a baseline, and assuming Coffman (R-CO) would deploy between 5,000 and 50,000 troops, we're talking about spending between $5 billion and $50 billion per year on Iraq.

That’s a lot of money, if you compare it to other expenditures of the federal government. For example, the low end of Coffman’s range, $5 billion per year, is more than double what America currently spends on housing for military veterans.

For the amount spent if America kept 5,000 troops in Iraq for three years, the U.S. could more than double the EPA budget. The amount spent in one and a half years would be equal to what we spend on the National Science Foundation.

  • EPA budget is $13 billion
  • National Science Foundation $7 billion
  • NASA $17 billion
  • Humanitarian foreign aid $22 billion
  • Higher education $12 billion
  • Veterans’ housing $2 billion
  • Veterans’ hospital and medical care, $51 billion
  • Veterans education, training and rehabilitation $10 billion

SOURCE: FY 2012 figures, Budget of the United States, Historical Tables, 4.1 and 3.2.

We don't know the precise number of troops Coffman would deploy in Iraq, but during a recent interview, Coffman said that if the Obama Administration hadn't rushed troops out of Iraq, then Iraq would have agreed to the Status of Forces Agreement, which initially envisioned a residual force of 10,000 troops, a figure that was later reduced to 5,000.

Coffman said he "certainly" favors deploying "advisory" troops, if invited, so that the U.S. would have "some influence" in Iraq.

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