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Cost Of Operation Odyssey Dawn Already Above $100 Million

Less than 72 hours into the operation, America’s involvement in the, err whatever it is that’s going on in Libya, is already reaching significant levels:

With U.N. coalition forces bombarding Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi from the sea and air, the United States’ part in the operation could ultimately hit several billion dollars — and require the Pentagon to request emergency funding from Congress to pay for it.

The first day of Operation Odyssey Dawn had a price tag that was well over $100 million for the U.S. in missiles alone. And the U.S. military, which remains in the lead now in its third day, has pumped millions more into air- and sea-launched strikes targeting air-defense sites and ground-force positions along Libya’s coastline.

The ultimate total that the United States spends will hinge on the length and scope of the strikes as well as on the contributions of its coalition allies. But Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said on Monday that the U.S. costs could “easily pass the $1 billion mark on this operation, regardless of how well things go.”

The Pentagon has the money in its budget to cover unexpected contingencies and can also use fourth-quarter dollars to cover the costs of operations now. “They’re very used to doing this operation where they borrow from Peter to pay Paul,” said Gordon Adams, who served as the Office of Management and Budget’s associate director for national security during the Clinton administration.

However, there comes a point when there simply isn’t enough cash to pay for everything. The White House said on Monday it was not prepared to request emergency funding yet, but former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim estimated that the Defense Department would need to send a request for supplemental funding to Capitol Hill if the U.S. military’s share of Libya operations expenses tops $1 billion.

“The operation in Libya is being funded with existing resources at this point. We are not planning to request a supplemental at this time,” said Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget.

Additionally, the costs of the war could end up wiping out most of the budget cuts that Republicans have gotten out of the Continuing Resolutions passed in the last month:

U.S. military operations in Libya could wipe out a significant chunk of the budget cuts won by congressional Republicans in recent weeks, defense analysts say.

GOP leaders have trumpeted enacted spending reductions that amount to more than $285 million per day since the beginning of March.

But defense analysts say the Pentagon could be burning through more than $100 million per day in Libya, putting those budget savings at risk.

n separate briefings on Monday, the Defense Department and the White House said they do not yet have a projected price tag for the military action that began on Saturday. Defense officials said they are still “collecting” and analyzing early costs.

With Congress determined to rein in federal spending, the cost of the U.S. intervention is sure to become a top concern on Capitol Hill.

It probably would be nice if Congress had had an opportunity to debate this engagement before it had been launched, huh?

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. TG Chicago says:

    It probably would be nice if Congress had had an opportunity to debate this engagement before it had been launched, huh?

    Indeed. It would also be nice if more members of Congress (particularly the Senate) were objecting to this offensive being launched without their input.

    Have any deficit hawks objected to this new war on budgetary grounds? If not, why not?

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  2. Franklin says:

    Additionally, the costs of the war could end up wiping out most of the budget cuts that Republicans have gotten out of the Continuing Resolutions passed in the last month.

    Maybe that’s because they haven’t found anything to cut except worthless programs like, I don’t know, tsunami warning systems.

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  3. john personna says:

    Do you misunderstand the word “significant?”

    It actually means you can see it in the total. Now, when any one mentions total 2011 military spending, are they actually going to get down to the millions? Or will they round to the nearest trillion?

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  4. [...] Cost Of Operation Odyssey Dawn Already Above $100 Million (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  5. David says:

    Very nice.

    So, as I see it, we pay for something we didn’t really need to do, we gain nothing from, and was in the end useless. Great.

    If I’m mistaken, please correct me…but, what could US gain from attacking Lybia? Economical / Political angle? Someone?

    David

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