Varney's claim that Obama inflated deployment costs undermined by Pentagon assessment that is reportedly in line with White House
Research ››› ››› TOM ALLISON
Fox Business' Stuart Varney baselessly claimed that the Obama administration was using inflated cost estimates of $1 million per year per soldier to deploy additional troops to Afghanistan in order to "introduce the pressure to leave" and that the Pentagon's estimate for cost per additional soldier deployed to Afghanistan is "closer to $600,000." However, the Pentagon reportedly acknowledged that the lower estimate does not include additional essential costs such as constructing additional facilities, providing support forces, intelligence assets, weapons, and other equipment, and one Pentagon comptroller memo that did include such costs reportedly estimated the cost to be between $750,000 to $1,250,000 per soldier per year, placing the White House estimate in line with the Pentagon.
Varney asserts that White House inflated estimates in part to "introduce the pressure to leave"
Varney: White House's $1 million estimate used "to introduce the pressure to leave." Appearing on Fox News, Varney claimed, "The White House uses this big number, $1 million per year per soldier, to send those extra troops to Afghanistan." He continued: "The Pentagon says it's closer to $600,000, but the president goes with the big number. Why does he do that? Well, in part because he wants to introduce the pressure to leave." Varney concluded: "Here's an example of where cost is in the driver's seat when it comes to policy." [America's Newsroom, 12/1/09]
Varney ignored costs of necessary troop support
Administration estimate reportedly includes everything White House considers necessary, including housing and equipment. A November 23 Los Angeles Times article reported, "The Office of Management and Budget [OMB] says adding 40,000 troops would cost about $40 billion a year, or $1 million each. White House officials included in their estimate everything they consider necessary to wage war, including troop housing and equipment." Moreover, a November 12 Bloomberg article reported of OMB director Peter Orszag's estimate:
Orszag's estimate was the first public forecast by the White House of potential Afghan war costs as the government prepares to announce its new strategy.
"These numbers are perfectly consistent with spending in Afghanistan today," said Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst with the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
CNN: Lower Pentagon estimate excludes necessary support costs. An anonymous senior Pentagon official reportedly told CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr that deploying an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan could cost $20 billion, or $500,000 per person. However, Starr further reported, "The actual costs could be higher, because the estimate does not include the cost of constructing additional facilities, providing support forces such as military intelligence assets that may be based outside Afghanistan or replacing damaged weapons or equipment." [CNN, 10/30/09]
Pentagon comptroller estimate that included support costs reportedly in line with White House. The November 23 Los Angeles Times article reported that a Pentagon comptroller memo that "broke with the customary Defense formula and did include construction and equipment" estimated a cost "closer to that of Obama's Office of Management and Budget." The assessment reportedly estimated that a deployment of 40,000 troops to Afghanistan would cost between $30 billion and $35 billion, or between $750,000 and $875,000 per soldier per year; an increase of 20,000 would cost $20 million to $25 million a year, or between $1 million and $1.25 million per soldier per year. [Los Angeles Times, 11/23/09]
NPR: Former Pentagon official cites $1 million estimate, notes importance of support in cost estimates. In an article on Afghanistan war estimates, NPR reported: "Dov Zakheim, a former chief financial officer for the Defense Department, says the $1 million price tag includes getting the soldier to Afghanistan, getting his equipment to Afghanistan, and moving the soldier around once in the country." The article quoted Zakheim: "So, it's the cost of some allocation of the cost of the plane, some allocation of the cost of the fuel, some allocation of the cost of the pilots, the maintenance folks. ... If you focus just on the soldier, it seems outrageous. But if you focus on the support for the soldier -- that's not all that outrageous at all." [NPR, 10/29/09]