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Does the US really spend $50 billion in the Middle East every year?

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DCNFAnders Hagstrom, DCNF

The United States spends $50 billion annually on the war in Afghanistan, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has repeatedly claimed, and the numbers back him up.

The U.S. will spend $46 million in the country in 2018, the Pentagon estimates. Annual reports show the U.S. has spent at least $40 billion annually since 2008, peaking at $118 billion in 2011. Department of Defense officials announced the $46 billion estimate in a March Senate hearing. This figure includes about $13 billion for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, $5 billion for Afghan security forces and $780 million in other assistance for the country, officials also noted during the hearing. The officials did not provide additional detail, but they implied much of the remaining $27 billion will fund logistical and support operations for U.S. and allied forces in landlocked Afghanistan.

U.S. spending on Afghanistan, however, has more than halved compared to the $100 billion and more annually spent from 2010 to 2012.

Troop levels have also declined from a peak of 98,000 in FY 2011 to around 14,000 today, although President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing U.S. presence in Afghanistan with troop surges and a stepped up bombing campaign amid the Taliban’s resurgence.

The Pentagon’s key priority remains supporting and training the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) so the country can maintain its own stability and peace, the U.S. Department of Defense has stressed.

“Our goal is to increase ANDSF operational capabilities and expand their operational reach by providing advisory support and tailored equipment and training,” a DoD official recently said in written testimony to Congress. “We are focusing our efforts on areas where they lack key capabilities, such as aviation and intelligence.”

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