A US Air Force KC-135 refuels a Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 213 over Iraq Aug. 21. (US Defense Department)
WASHINGTON — Since June 16 when US President Barack Obama first sent several dozen US troops to Iraq to begin assessing the state of the country’s Army, the United States has spent around $500 million on operations there.
Briefing reporters on Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the price tag has run on average about $7.5 million per day since June, sometimes less and sometimes more. But taking that average number, that would put the US price tag at $550 million through Aug. 28
Operations are paid for through the 2014 overseas contingency operation (OCO) account, and have funded US personnel to staff two joint operations centers in Baghdad and Erbil, 110 US airstrikes, and a constant stream of manned and unmanned surveillance sorties. The United States has also flown a number of humanitarian flights to deliver food, water, and supplies to the stranded Yazidi population in northern Iraq.
Kirby said that when it comes to using OCO funds, “we think we’ve got it covered in terms of 2014. We’re well within the limits.”
Speaking on Thursday, Obama struck a cautious tone when discussing further operations in Iraq and reports that his administration is weighing airstrikes in neighboring Syria, where the Islamic State (IS) extremist group has its home base. When asked about the potential strikes, he warned that “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with IS, he said.
Obama met with his National Security Council on Friday, and is continuing to weigh military and non-military options. “The options that I’m asking for from the Joint Chiefs focus primarily on making sure that [IS] is not overrunning Iraq,” he said. ■