Has the Government Spent $2 Trillion on the Wars in the Middle East?
During the fourth Republican debate last night, Donald Trump suggested that we have spent $2 trillion on the wars in the Middle East. Between Fiscal Year 2001 and 2015, the federal government has spent $1.7 trillion in overseas contingency operations funds, mostly for activity in Afghanistan and Iraq. This spending began with $14 billion in the year of the 9/11 attacks, peaking in fiscal year 2008 at $186 billion, and slowly declining to $74 billion last year.
By category, over the past fourteen years, the government has spent $1.5 trillion for military operations, $92 billion for indigenous security forces, $92 billion for state and foreign aid, and $5 billion for other services.
In addition to the $1.7 trillion specifically designated for combat operations overseas, there was a ramp-up in the normal defense budget after 2002 as well, some of which surely contributed to the war effort, and veterans benefits as a result of the wars have also increased, which combined would push the total closer to, if not over, $2 trillion.