The Pentagon released startling numbers on exactly how much the operations in Iraq to fight ISIS militants has cost the U.S. The Pentagon said Friday that the average cost for the operations is $7.5 million per day since they began in mid-June. NBC News reports that those types of numbers means the department would have spent about $500 million since it became directly involved in fighting Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham terrorists. Rear Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, said:
“(The cost) has varied since the beginning in mid-June. But on average it’s costing about $7.5 million per day… That’s based on a snapshot of the operations that have occurred as of the 26th of this month.”
Kirby said the operations are being “supported through our overseas contingency funding. We’re well within the limits that we need for 2014.”
CBS News is reporting that the cost started off much smaller but escalated quickly when airstrikes in Northern Iraq began this month. The report states that the U.S. has participated in 110 airstrikes since August 8 in the region. Many of the airstrikes are taking place in the Mosul Dam area. However, Kirby was asked why airstrikes were still pounding the Mosul Dam area long after U.S. officials said local Kurdish and Iraqi forces had regained control from the Islamic State forces. Kirby said:
“Because ISIL keeps wanting to take it back. They keep threatening the dam and the facility. And as long as they pose a threat to that facility, we are going to continue to help Iraqi security forces preserve their ownership of it.” (Note the ISIL is another acronym used for ISIS)
Kirby notes that the airstrikes are needed to keep ISIS at bay. Mosul Dam is not the only priority for the Pentagon. There are also security forces in Baghdad and Irbil to protect American personnel and facilities. Pentagon officials told reporters that they have enough funding for operations through September but that requests to Congress have been made for the next budget year in case Iraq operations intensify further.
The airstrikes against ISIS are currently limited to within Iraq. However, the White House also is considering whether to extend the military campaign to include ISIS targets inside Syria, but President Barack Obama said Thursday there was no immediate strategy to do that and played down expectations that it would happen immediately. In Syria, ISIS has forced over half the Syrian population to seek refuge in nearby countries or become displaced inside the country borders.