CBO Study: Phased Withdrawal Would Save Half A Trillion Dollars

In a letter to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), the Congressional Budget Office reports that the war in Iraq has so far cost U.S. taxpayers $351 billion. The total amount, approved and requested, by the Bush administration is $532 billion.

The letter attempts to answer how much more Iraq will cost over the next decade (read it here). To answer that question, the CBO laid out two possible scenarios, and the costs of the respective plans:

First, under a “stay the course” scenario with a gradual drawdown that leaves 75,000 soldiers overseas in 2013 and each year thereafter, the cost would be $919 billion for the next ten years.

The second scenario proposes a faster drawdown, leaving only 30,000 military personnel overseas over the 2010–2017 period, although not necessarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of that plan would be $472 billion for the next ten years.

In other words, phased withdrawal from Iraq would save $447 billion over the next decade.

The CBO acknowledges a great amount of uncertainty in its calculations. “The President has announced a plan to increase the number of military personnel deployed to Iraq, but it is not clear how many troops will be involved, how long the size of deployed forces will remain elevated, or what the nature of the United States’ long-term military commitment in Iraq and elsewhere will be.”


As the letter makes clear, hundreds of billions of dollars hang in the balance depending on the answers to those questions.