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Posts tagged ‘cost’

Up In Smoke – Paying for Afghanistan

From The Globalist
Global Security
2 May 2012

The Cost of Being in Afghanistan

A year ago today, U.S. forces located and killed the most prominent target of its decade-old war in Afghanistan. The death of Osama bin Laden, however, did not mark the end of the conflict, which continues to add billions of dollars a year to the U.S. budget. We wonder: On average, how much does it cost to support one U.S. servicemember deployed to Afghanistan?

Answers:

A. $67,000 per year
B. $132,000 per year
C. $685,000 per year
D. $1.2 million per year

A. $67,000 per year is not correct.

$67,000 per year was the cost per troop at the peak of World War II (adjusting for inflation to today’s dollars). World War II involved a full-scale mobilization of the U.S. armed forces, with troop ranks rising to over 12 million in 1945. In that year, the war consumed 36% of U.S. GDP, or $810 billion in today’s dollars.

B. $132,000 per year is not correct.

$132,000 per year was the cost per troop (also in today’s dollars) at the peak of the Vietnam War in 1968. The United States deployed nearly 790,000 troops to Southeast Asia — at a total cost of $104 billion in today’s dollars, or just 2.3% of GDP at the time. As was the case in World War II, a draft was in effect during most of the conflict in Vietnam.

C. $685,000 per year is not correct.

The average cost in Iraq over the past five years was $685,000 per year per U.S. troop — over ten times the cost of a soldier deployed in World War II, according to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The cost per troop was much higher than in World War II or Vietnam because we live in a very different era militarily. Since the United States no longer has a draft, it has to rely on an all-volunteer force, which is more expensive to recruit and retain. And the way the country fights wars has become much more technologically intensive, which means weapons are more costly. As a result, the United States has to invest considerably more in training its troops to use those weapons.
D. $1.2 million per year is correct.

The average cost per troop in Afghanistan over the past five years is $1.2 million per year. While Iraq features difficult terrain and challenging conditions, the sheer lack of infrastructure in Afghanistan — and its geographical position as a landlocked nation — makes operating in the country extraordinarily expensive for the U.S. military.

In addition, the high-tech weapons systems that are being used involve an enormous logistics trail for everything from fuel to spare parts. Fuel costs alone are estimated to account for between $200,000-350,000 of the cost per troop deployed.

Read this and other articles at The Globalist.

Costly Guantanamo Cell Block

From Nation of Change and McClatchy
by Carol rosenberg
4 January 2012

Secret Guantanamo Cellblock Cost About $700,000.

A once-secret Guantánamo cellblock now used to punish captives was built in November 2007 for $690,000 from a crude, then 5-year-old temporary prison camp design.

Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese confirmed the existence of the block earlier in December, and released a photo of one steel-walled cell after detainee defenders called conditions inhumane. It’s called Camp Five-Echo, and “serves as a disciplinary block for those non-compliant detainees in Camps 5 and 6,” Reese said in an email Friday that for the first time revealed the cost of the 4-year-old prison camps construction project.

Fewer than 150 of Guantánamo’s 171 captives are kept in Camps 5 and 6, which are steel and cement penitentiary-style copies of U.S. prisons. Former CIA prisoners are held elsewhere at a secret site at the remote Navy base, Camp 7, a jail whose price tag the Pentagon won’t reveal.

As for Five-Echo, it’s a separate 24-unit boxcar-style cellblock on the grounds of Camp 5. Its design comes from the detention center’s earliest days, 2002, when contract laborers welded cellblocks from old shipping containers. But there’s a key difference: In the original design, the cells had a see-through metal mesh that allowed captives to communicate with and see others. For “the disciplinary block,” the military had workers weld in steel walls, sealing off each cell from the other.

The punishment block is pointedly left off the guided tour the U.S. military gives reporters. Reese, the prison camps spokeswoman, said it was first built in November 2007 and is used as a place where captives who don’t cooperate with their captors lose “privileges, and not by use of isolation or solitary confinement.”

Saudi-born Shaker Aamer, 45, a British resident, has been held there more than 100 days, said attorney Ramzi Kassem said Saturday, characterizing his client’s detention circumstances “reminiscent of Guantánamo circa 2003.”

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

Health Care In U.S. Is Best?

From Nation of Change
IWatch News
by Wendell Potter

Despite GOP Claims, U.S. Health Care Nowhere Near ‘Best’ in the World

A little more than a year ago, on the day after the GOP regained control of the House of Representatives, Speaker-to-be John Boehner said one of the first orders of business after he took charge would be the repeal of health care reform.

“I believe that the health care bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health care system in the world, and bankrupt our country,” Boehner said at a press conference. “That means we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common sense reforms to bring down the cost of health care.”

Boehner is not the first nor the only Republican to try to make us believe that the U.S. has the world’s best health care system and that we’re bound to lose that distinction because of Obamacare. I’ve heard GOP candidates for president say the same thing in recent months, charging that we need to get rid of a President who clearly is trying to fix something that doesn’t need fixing, something that isn’t broken in the first place.

Well, those guys need to get out more. Out of the country, in fact. They need to travel to at least one of the many countries that are doing a much better job of delivering high quality care at much lower costs than the good old USA.

If they’re not interested in a fact-finding mission abroad, then perhaps they might take a look at two recent reports before they make any other statements about the quality of American health care.

Last week, the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) released the results of its most recent study of the health care systems in its member countries, including the U.S., plus six others, for a total of 40. And those results are illuminating.

If Boehner and his fellow Republicans had characterized the U.S. system as the most expensive in the world, they would have been right on target. But they would have been way off base by calling it the best.

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

Cost of Guantanamo Bay

From Nation of Change

Cost to House a Captive at Guantanamo Bay is $800,000

by Carol Rosenberg
McClatchy/News Report
Published: Wednesday 9 November 2011

Guards get combat pay, just like troops in Afghanistan, without the risk of being blown up. Some commanders get to bring their families to this war-on-terror deployment. And each captive gets $38.45 worth of food a day.

The Pentagon detention center that started out in January 2002 as a collection of crude open-air cells guarded by Marines in a muddy tent city is today arguably the most expensive prison on Earth, costing taxpayers $800,000 annually for each of the 171 captives by Obama administration reckoning.

That’s more than 30 times the cost of keeping a captive on U.S. soil.

It’s still funded as an open-ended battlefield necessity, although the last prisoner arrived in March 2008. But it functions more like a gated community in an American suburb than a forward-operating base in one of Afghanistan’s violent provinces.

Congress, charged now with cutting $1.5 trillion from the budget by Christmas, provided $139 million to operate the center last year, and has made every effort to keep it open – even as a former deputy commander of the detention center calls it “expensive” and “inefficient.”

“It’s a slow-motion Berlin Airlift – that’s been going on for 10 years,” says retired Army Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti, a West Point graduate who in 2008 was deputy commander at the detention center.

Both its location and temporary nature drive up costs, says Zanetti. While there, he wrote a secret study that compared the operation to Alcatraz, noting that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had closed it in 1963 because it was too expensive.

At Guantanamo, everything comes in by barge or aircraft “from paper clips to bulldozers,” Zanetti says, as well as the revolving guard force. Also, more recently, a massage chair for stressed-out prison camp staff.

Zanetti, now a Seattle-based money manager, was a financial adviser in civilian life before his New Mexico National Guard unit’s call-up to Guantanamo. He has never disputed that America needed the detention center after 9/11 but argues that today it deserves a cost-benefit analysis.

“What complicates the overall command further is you have the lawyers, interrogators and guards all operating under separate budgets and command structures,” he said. “It’s like combining the corporate cultures and budgets of Goldman, Apple and Coke. Business schools would have a field day dissecting the structure of Guantanamo.”

An examination of the expenses shows that now, with no strategy for meeting President Barack Obama’s Jan. 22, 2009 closure order, the military is preparing for the prison’s next decade. Spending is not just aimed at upgrades for the captive population, most in medium security confinement, but also for the revolving staff of 1,850 troops, linguists, intelligence analysts, federal agents and contract laborers.

Commanders are contracting for a new round of capitol improvements, including $2 million worth of new computer equipment to grow storage space under a fast-track, noncompetitive contract with Dell recently posted on a government website.

And that doesn’t include the un-networked laptops the prison provides captives taking a life skills class that includes a resume writing lesson, in case anyone gets to go home.

Read complete article at Nation of Change.

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