Iraq-Afghan Wars Costs Soar

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Demonstrators in London in February last year demand no attack on Iran and immediate withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan
Demonstrators in London in February last year demand no attack on Iran and immediate withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan

The government’s forecasts for the costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in this financial year have ‘increased significantly over the last three months’, says a report from the House of Commons Defence Committee published yesterday.

The report, Operational costs in Afghanistan and Iraq: Spring Supplementary Estimate 2007-08, HC 400, finds that spending has almost doubled on last year.

It states that:

• The forecast cost of operations in Afghanistan, excluding indirect resource costs, has gone up 48 per cent to £1.424 billion in 2007-08.

The MPs say this is unsurprising given the increase in UK Forces there over the year and the high operational tempo.

But they say that the Ministry of Defence must provide more detail on the capital and infrastructure programmes.

• The forecast cost of operations in Iraq has surprisingly gone up even more, by 52 per cent to £1.449 billion, despite the drawdown of UK Forces.

The MPs say the MoD must produce a breakdown of the increase in capital costs in Iraq, and explain when the cost of operations there might begin to fall.

• Overall, forecast operational costs in both theatres stand now at £3.297 billion for this financial year, compared to an outturn cost of £1.698 billion for the financial year 2006-07, which represents an increase of 94 per cent.

The report – published on the day the House of Commons was asked to agree the government’s Spring Supplementary Estimates – recommends ‘that the House of Commons approve the MoD’s request for additional resources, given that UK Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan require such significant resources, on account of the operational need for new equipment and force protection.’

Commenting on the Report, Defence Committee Chairman, Tory MP James Arbuthnot said that ‘this Estimate represents a lot of public money.

‘The MoD needs to provide better information about what it is all being spent on.

‘We are pleased to note that some more information will be made available with the Main Estimates in April.

‘The government should not take Parliament’s agreement to its spending plans for granted.’