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Entries in War on Terror (1)

Tuesday
May032011

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead, But Costly War on Terror Goes On

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment(WASHINGTON) -- Osama bin Laden's death puts an end to a chapter that has cost the United States thousands of lives, billions of dollars and countless resources.  But it's unlikely to end the U.S. war against terrorism or reduce the resources spent on such missions, though how they are allocated will likely change.

U.S. Navy SEALs killed -- in the words of former President Bill Clinton -- "public enemy number one" in a top-secret, risky operation in Abbotabad, Pakistan Sunday night.

The mission itself was unlikely to have cost the U.S. military a substantial amount, experts say.  It was conducted by 40 SEALs in the dead of night with four helicopters and lasted about 40 minutes.  Any costs associated with the mission would come from the Department of Defense's overall operations and maintenance budget.

It's the hunt leading up to the raid that experts believe was more costly, and likely included aerial predators, unmanned surveillance aircraft, satellite imagery and other high-tech means to pin down bin Laden's location.

The costs of pursuing bin Laden over the years are virtually impossible to calculate.  His pursuit has cost the United States trillions of dollars, two wars and thousands of lives.

Domestically, the defense budget has ballooned at an average rate of nine percent per year since 2000.  Overseas, Congress has appropriated more than $1 trillion for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere since the 9/11 attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The United States spends about $100 billion per year for military aid in Afghanistan, and provides another $6 billion in economic assistance.

The United States has also upped its assistance to Pakistan despite increasingly tense relations with the country.  Since 2001, Congress has approved about $20 billion for Pakistan in direct aid and military reimbursements, an amount that lawmakers now say will require more accountability.  Bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan and the military there did not assist in the operation to kill him, U.S. officials say.

Bin Laden's death, though huge for the United States, is unlikely to ease the financial burden, observers say.

"The only way you're going to ease the burden -- you're going to make a real impact financially -- is if troops are brought back out of Afghanistan," said Kenneth Katzman, a specialist in Middle East affairs at the Congressional Research Service.  "That's where the money is....Everything else will be small potatoes."

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