Letter to the Honorable Kent Conrad and John M. Spratt, Jr. Regarding Estimated Costs of a Potential Conflict with Iraq   [open pdf - 72KB]

Estimates of the total cost of a military conflict with Iraq and the conflict's aftermath are highly uncertain and depend on many unknown factors including the actual force size deployed, the duration of the conflict, the strategy employed, the number of casualties, the equipment lost, and the need for reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure. Of the many forcelevel options being discussed, CBO examined two representative examples. Both alternatives are based to some extent on the forces that the Department of Defense (DoD) had previously indicated it would require for a major theater war. Using those forces, CBO employed various methods to develop its estimates. As appropriate, it used cost data from prior and current military operations--most notably, the operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Desert Shield/Desert Storm. In addition, CBO estimated costs using categories similar to those in DoD's annual reports on the Overseas Contingency Operations Transfer Fund--personnel and personnel support, operations support, and transportation. CBO's estimates represent the incremental costs that DoD could incur above the budgeted cost of routine operations. As a result, the estimate excludes items such as the basic pay of active-duty military personnel but includes the monthly pay for reservists recalled to full-time duty. Similarly, the estimates reflect only the costs of aircraft flying hours and ship steaming days above those normally provided in DoD's regular appropriations. CBO has no basis for estimating the number of casualties from the conflict or for analyzing the effects of Iraq's possible use of weapons of mass destruction; thus, the estimates in this report exclude those considerations. Neither is there a basis for estimating the costs associated with activities conducted under the National Foreign Intelligence Program because the details of its activities are highly classified.

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