[News] Killing each Taliban soldier costs $50 Million

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 28 11:40:43 EDT 2010

The Taliban Super Soldier- A $50 Million Man

Killing each Taliban soldier costs $50 Million

Killing 20 Taliban costs $1 Billion / Killing all the Taliban would 
cost $1.7 Trillion

Thursday 30 September 2010, by 
<http://www.kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?auteur1518>Matthew Nasuti

The Pentagon will not tell the public what it costs to locate, target 
and kill a single Taliban soldier because the price-tag is so 
scandalously high that it makes the Taliban appear to be 
Super-Soldiers. As set out in this article, the estimated cost to 
kill each Taliban is as high as $100 million, with a conservative 
estimate being $50 million. A public discussion should be taking 
place in the United States regarding whether the Taliban have become 
too expensive an enemy to defeat.

Each month the Pentagon generates a ream of dubious statistics 
designed to create the illusion of progress in Afghanistan. In 
response this author decided to compile his own statistics. As the 
goal of any war is to kill the enemy, the idea was to calculate what 
it actually costs to kill just one of the enemy. The obstacles 
encountered in generating such a statistic are formidable. The 
problem is that the Pentagon continues to illegally classify all 
negative war news and embarrassing information. Regardless, some 
information has been collected from independent sources. Here is what 
we know in summary and round numbers:

1.Taliban Field Strength: 35,000 troops

2.Taliban Killed Per Year by Coalition forces: 2,000 (best available 

3.Pentagon Direct Costs for Afghan War for 2010: $100 billion

4.Pentagon Indirect Costs for Afghan War for 2010: $100 billion

Using the fact that 2,000 Taliban are being killed each year and that 
the Pentagon spends $200 billion per year on the war in Afghanistan, 
one simply has to divide one number into the other. That calculation 
reveals that $100 million is being spent to kill each Taliban 
soldier. In order to be conservative, the author decided to double 
the number of Taliban being killed each year by U.S. and NATO forces 
(although the likelihood of such being true is unlikely). This 
reduces the cost to kill each Taliban to $50 million, which is the 
title of this article. The final number is outrageously high 
regardless of how one calculates it.

To put this information another way, using the conservative estimate 
of $50 million to kill each Taliban:

It costs the American taxpayers $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban

As the U.S. military estimates there to be 35,000 hard-core Taliban 
and assuming that no reinforcements and replacements will arrive from 
Pakistan and Iran:

Just killing the existing Taliban would cost $1.75 Trillion

The reason for these exorbitant costs is that United States has the 
world's most mechanized, computerized, weaponized and synchronized 
military, not to mention the most pampered (at least at Forward 
Operating Bases). An estimated 150,000 civilian contractors support, 
protect, feed and cater to the American personnel in Afghanistan, 
which is an astonishing number. The Americans enjoy such perks and 
distinctions in part because no other country is willing to pay 
(waste) so much money on their military.

The ponderous American war machine is a logistics nightmare and a 
maintenance train wreck. It is also part-myth. This author served at 
a senior level within the U.S. Air Force. Air Force "smart" bombs are 
no way near as consistently accurate as the Pentagon boasts; Army 
mortars remain inaccurate; even standard American field rifles are 
frequently outmatched by Taliban weapons, which have a longer range. 
The American public would pale if it actually learned the full story 
about the poor quality of the weapons and equipment that are being 
purchased with its tax dollars. The Taliban's best ally within the 
United States may be the Pentagon, whose contempt for fiscal 
responsibility and accountability may force a premature U.S. 
withdrawal from Afghanistan as the Americans cannot continue to fund 
these Pentagon excesses.

If President Obama refuses to drastically reform the Pentagon's 
inefficient way of making war, he may conclude that the Taliban is 
simply too expensive an enemy to fight. He would then have little 
choice but to abandon the Afghan people to the Taliban's 
"Super-Soldiers." That would be an intolerable disgrace.

The problem is not simply within the Pentagon.

The hapless U.S. State Department is equally to blame. It:

1.Continues to sit on the sidelines of this war;

2.Refused for nine years to deploy an adequate number of civilian experts;

3.Continues to hire abusive and disreputable security contractors;

4.Failed to fight for the needs of Afghan civilians; and

5.Has made little effort to win their hearts and minds.

A crucial statistic that demonstrates this is to compare military and 
security expenditures by the United States in Afghanistan with 
expenditures for civilian aid, such as reconstruction. That statistic 
is as follows:

Money spent on Military/Security: $365 billion Money spent on Afghan 
civilians: $8.5 billion

This latter number spells out "FAILURE." U.S. diplomats and USAID 
officials have failed to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans and as 
a result they have accomplished the impossible. Their lack of resolve 
and interest has made an increasing number of disillusioned Afghans 
view Taliban rule as potentially an improvement.

Appendix (Supporting Information)

Taliban Field Strength:

The figure of 35,000 is based on an interview given by General 
Stanley McChrystal earlier this year.

Taliban Soldiers Killed:

The Pentagon refuses to disclose the total number of Taliban killed 
each month in Afghanistan by coalition forces, special operations 
personnel and the CIA. One reason became obvious during Operation 
Moshtarak in Marjah earlier this year. The Pentagon and NATO refused 
to specify the actual number of Taliban casualties in Marjah because 
the number was embarrassing low. American, NATO and Afghan forces 
reportedly suffered more casualties (killed and wounded) than they 
inflicted on the Taliban, making Marjah a military defeat for the 
West (if casualties determine victory or defeat).

To fill the gap created by Pentagon silence on this issue, media 
groups have published their own Taliban casualty count based on 
official and press reports. That count is inflated as the U.S. 
military labels everyone it kills a "Taliban militant," even if they 
are criminals, drug traders, war lords or civilians defending their 
homes. As a result of the Pentagon's lack of credibility on this 
issue, this author assumes that only 50% of those labeled as Taliban 
actually are.

The Associated Press has reported that 3,800 militants were killed in 
2008, and 4,500 in 2009. Pro-NATO blogs, such as the web site 
"Terrorist Death Watch," have calculated that 3,667 terrorists have 
been killed in Afghanistan since January 1, 2006, (about 700 per 
year). The author assumes that an average of 2,000 hard-core Taliban 
are killed each year

U.S. Military Costs:

Total military expenditures in Afghanistan are not clear as the 
Pentagon does not release all of its direct and indirect cost for the 
war. While most direct costs are known, billions of dollars in CIA 
and special operations costs are improperly classified and remain 
hidden. In addition, the indirect costs for the war (i.e., military 
regular pay, equipment depreciation, wear & tear, long term health 
costs, Pentagon support costs within the U.S., USTRANSCOM 
transportation costs, transport hub costs such as Manas air base, 
costs for borrowing funds etc.) are not precisely known. Independent 
studies conducted of the Iraq war are available and they calculate 
that the indirect costs equal or exceed the direct costs.

What we know about Pentagon direct costs is as follows:

- From 2001, to April 2009, the Pentagon directly spent $171.7 
billion in Afghanistan.
  From May 2009, to the present, the Pentagon directly spent an 
additional $166.3 billion. This is an incredible increase over the 
past 17 months.

Monthly expenditures have also seen a staggering increase.


  October 2009, the Pentagon was directly spending $3.6 billion a month.
  February 2010, the Pentagon was directly spending $6.7 billion a month.
  October 2010, with the addition of 35,000 more combat and support 
troops into Afghanistan, the number must be close to $8 billion a month.

Some estimates place direct Pentagon Afghan war costs for all of 
2010, at $105 billion.

U.S. State Department Costs:

Officially the State Department and USAID have expended about $35 
billion in Afghanistan since 2001. According to most audits, about 
75% or $27.5 billion has been spent on training, housing and 
equipping the Afghan security services, and road construction with 
the balance ($8.5 billion) being spent on civilian projects. Much of 
this $8.5 billion has been wasted on dilapidated schools and minor 
"trophy" projects in Kabul.

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