Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has repeatedly claimed that the United States spends $50 billion annually on the war in Afghanistan, and the numbers back him up.
The Pentagon estimates the U.S. will spend $46 billion in the country in 2018, and annual reports show that the U.S. has spent at least $40 billion every year since 2008, peaking at $118 billion in 2011. Department of Defense officials announced the $46 billion estimate in a March Senate hearing. Officials also noted during the hearing that this figure includes about $13 billion for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, $5 billion for Afghan security forces and $780 million in other assistance for the country; the officials did not provide additional detail, but they implied that much of the remaining $27 billion will fund logistical and support operations for U.S. and allied forces in landlocked Afghanistan.
U.S. spending on Afghanistan, however, has more than halved compared to the $100 billion and more that was annually spent from 2010 to 2012.
Troop levels have also declined from a peak of 98,000 in FY 2011 to around 14,000 today, although the Trump administration is increasing the U.S. presence in Afghanistan with troop surges and a stepped up bombing campaign amid the Taliban’s resurgence.
The Pentagon has stressed that its key priority remains supporting and training the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) so the country can maintain its own stability and peace.
“Our goal is to increase ANDSF operational capabilities and expand their operational reach by providing advisory support and tailored equipment and training,” a DoD official recently said in written testimony to Congress. “We are focusing our efforts on areas where they lack key capabilities, such as aviation and intelligence.”
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