Costs of the Afghanistan war, in lives and dollars

Aug 13, 2021, 6:52 PM | Updated: Aug 16, 2021, 12:48 pm
FILE - In this July 5, 2021 file  photo, vehicles are parked at Bagram Airfield after the American ...

FILE - In this July 5, 2021 file photo, vehicles are parked at Bagram Airfield after the American military left the base, in Parwan province north of Kabul, Afghanistan. The US and NATO have promised to pay $4 billion a year until 2024 to finance Afghanistan’s military and security forces, which are struggling to contain an advancing Taliban. Already since 2001, the U.S. has spent nearly $89 billion to build, equip and train the forces, including nearly $10 billion for vehicles and aircraft. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

              Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane, some climbing on the plane, as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug.16. 2021. Thousands of Afghans have rushed onto the tarmac at the airport, some so desperate to escape the Taliban capture of their country that they held onto the American military jet as it took off and plunged to death. (Verified UGC via AP)
            
              FILE - In this May 2, 2021 file photo, a U.S. flag is lowered as American and Afghan soldiers attend a handover ceremony from the U.S. Army to the Afghan National Army, at Camp Anthonic, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. The US and NATO have promised to pay $4 billion a year until 2024 to finance Afghanistan’s military and security forces, which are struggling to contain an advancing Taliban. Already since 2001, the U.S. has spent nearly $89 billion to build, equip and train the forces. (Afghan Ministry of Defense Press Office via AP, File)
            
              FILE - In this July 5, 2021 file  photo, vehicles are parked at Bagram Airfield after the American military left the base, in Parwan province north of Kabul, Afghanistan. The US and NATO have promised to pay $4 billion a year until 2024 to finance Afghanistan’s military and security forces, which are struggling to contain an advancing Taliban. Already since 2001, the U.S. has spent nearly $89 billion to build, equip and train the forces, including nearly $10 billion for vehicles and aircraft. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

At just short of 20 years, the now-ending U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan was America’s longest war. Ordinary Americans tended to forget about it, and it received measurably less oversight from Congress than the Vietnam War did. But its death toll is in the many tens of thousands. And because the U.S. borrowed most of the money to pay for it, generations of Americans will be burdened by the cost of paying it off.

Here’s a look at the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, by the numbers, as the Taliban in a lightning offensive take over much of the country before the United States’ Aug. 31 deadline for ending its combat role and as the U.S. speeds up American and Afghan evacuations.

Much of the data below is from Linda Bilmes of Harvard University’s Kennedy School and from the Brown University Costs of War project. Because the United States between 2003 and 2011 fought the Afghanistan and Iraq wars simultaneously, and many American troops served tours in both wars, some figures as noted cover both post-9/11 U.S. wars.

THE LONGEST WAR:

Percentage of U.S. population born since the 2001 attacks plotted by al-Qaida leaders who were sheltering in Afghanistan: Roughly one out of every four.

THE HUMAN COST:

American service members killed in Afghanistan through April: 2,448.

U.S. contractors: 3,846.

Afghan national military and police: 66,000.

Other allied service members, including from other NATO member states: 1,144.

Afghan civilians: 47,245.

Taliban and other opposition fighters: 51,191.

Aid workers: 444.

Journalists: 72.

AFGHANISTAN AFTER NEARLY 20 YEARS OF U.S. OCCUPATION:

Percentage drop in infant mortality rate since U.S., Afghan and other allied forces overthrew the Taliban government, which had sought to restrict women and girls to the home: About 50.

Percentage of Afghan teenage girls able to read today: 37.

OVERSIGHT BY CONGRESS:

Date Congress authorized U.S. forces to go after culprits in Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: Sept. 18, 2001.

Number of times U.S. lawmakers have voted to declare war in Afghanistan: 0.

Number of times lawmakers on Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee addressed costs of Vietnam War, during that conflict: 42

Number of times lawmakers in same subcommittee have mentioned costs of Afghanistan and Iraq wars, through mid-summer 2021: 5.

Number of times lawmakers on Senate Finance Committee have mentioned costs of Afghanistan and Iraq wars since Sept. 11, 2001, through mid-summer 2021: 1.

PAYING FOR A WAR ON CREDIT, NOT IN CASH:

Amount President Harry Truman temporarily raised top tax rates to pay for Korean War: 92%.

Amount President Lyndon Johnson temporarily raised top tax rates to pay for Vietnam War: 77%.

Amount President George W. Bush cut tax rates for the wealthiest, rather than raise them, at outset of Afghanistan and Iraq wars: At least 8%.

Estimated amount of direct Afghanistan and Iraq war costs that the United States has debt-financed as of 2020: $2 trillion.

Estimated interest costs by 2050: Up to $6.5 trillion.

THE WARS END. THE COSTS DON’T:

Amount Bilmes estimates the United States has committed to pay in health care, disability, burial and other costs for roughly 4 million Afghanistan and Iraq veterans: more than $2 trillion.

Period those costs will peak: after 2048.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Costs of the Afghanistan war, in lives and dollars