The Cost of Freedom

article top

”'”Millions for defense, but not a penny for tribute.””’

— Charles Pinkney, the American minister to France, wrote that in a letter to Timothy Pickering in 1797 relating his answer to a French request for a tribute or bribe. The French had seized several American ships and were demanding a tribute for the return of the sailors and the ships. It’s a statement that continues to be relevant, although one might consider changing “millions” to “billions.”


After the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, President George W. Bush announced a Global War on Terrorism, requiring the collective resources of the entire federal government to counter the threat of terrorism.

Ongoing military and diplomatic operations overseas, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, constitute a key part of GWOT. These operations involve a wide variety of activities such as combating terrorists and insurgents, civil affairs, infrastructure reconstruction, the training military forces of other nations — including those in which the US military is not actively deployed — and research and development of new weapons systems.

The U.S. has reported substantial costs to date for Global War on Terrorism (or GWOT) related activities and can expect to incur significant costs for a long time to come. This requires decision makers to consider difficult tradeoffs as the nation faces increasing long-range fiscal challenges.

Since 2001, Congress has appropriated about $430 billion to the Department of Defense and other government agencies for military and diplomatic efforts in support of GWOT. This funding has been provided through regular appropriations as well as supplemental appropriations, which are provided outside of the normal planning and budgeting process.

So far, the DOD has received about $386 billion for GWOT military operations. In addition, agencies including the Department of State, DOD, and the Agency for International Development have received since 2001 about $44 billion to fund reconstruction and stabilization programs in Iraq ($34.5 billion) and Afghanistan ($9 billion) and an additional $400 million to be used in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The government agencies have reported significant costs associated with GWOT, but some observers, such as the General Accountability Office, have concerns with the reliability of DOD’s reported cost data.

Through April 2006, DOD has reported about $273 billion in incremental costs for GWOT-related operations overseas — costs that would not otherwise have been incurred. DOD’s reported GWOT costs and appropriated amounts differ generally because DOD’s cost reporting does not capture some items such as intelligence.

Also, DOD has not yet used funding made available for multiple years, such as procurement and military construction. GAO’s prior work found numerous problems with DOD’s processes for recording and reporting GWOT costs, including long-standing deficiencies in DOD’s financial management systems and business processes, the use of estimates instead of actual cost data, and the lack of adequate supporting documentation.

As a result, neither DOD nor the Congress reliably know how much the war costing and how appropriated funds are being used or have historical data useful in considering future funding needs. GAO made several recommendations to improve the reliability and reporting of GWOT costs.

In addition to reported costs for military operations, U.S. agencies have obligated about $23 billion of $30 billion received for Iraqi reconstruction and stabilization, as of January 2006. U.S. commitments to GWOT will likely involve the continued investment of significant resources, requiring decision makers to consider difficult tradeoffs as the nation faces increasing fiscal challenges in the years ahead.

For DOD, these include the extent and duration of military operations, force redeployment plans, and the amount of damaged or destroyed equipment needed to be repaired or replaced. Future costs for other US government agencies include efforts to help form governments and build capable and loyal security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and meet the healthcare needs of veterans, including providing future disability payments and medical services.

In short, these are the costs of freedom in the 21st Century.

(Figures obtained from the Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Department of Defense.)

”’Jim Kouri, CPP, is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance ( He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own Web site is located at”’

”’ reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to”’