US spends R91 million per day fighting Islamic State

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - OCTOBER 28, 2014

The US Pentagon on Monday said, in updated figures, that the average daily cost of its fight against the Islamic State (also called the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, IS or ISIS) had risen to US$8.3 million (or about R91 million), or a total of US$580 million (or about R6.4 billion) between August 8 and October 16 this year.

The new average reflects an increase in the intensity of US-led operations against IS militants in Syria and Iraq.

A week ago, the Pentagon had said the average daily cost to the US tax payer was US$7.6 million, or a total of US$424 million since August 8.

Some think tanks have predicted that a continued US-led military campaign against the Islamic State, both in the air and on the ground, will be in the region of US$3.1 billion (or about R34 billion) yearly.

And there have been those that say the total cost might even run as high as US$17 billion (or about R186 billion) annually based on the cost projections that are indicated to a greater increase of air strikes and as well as an increased presence in operational ground forces based on the report that was created by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The think tank had based their estimates on available public data and information based on the types of aircraft and equipment that is in use with the US military.

For these costs, the US is flying on average of 60 flight sorties on a daily basis and so far have approximately 1 600 US troops that are being deployed to Iraq as military advisors. The joint forces of the US and other coalition countries have carried out over 555 air strikes against the Islamic State so far.

The US has maintained that it limit its fight against IS to air support for Iraq and Kurdish Peshmerga forces (in Iraq) and moderate rebel groups in Syria.

Hard pressed for results

No doubt, US-led air strikes in northern Syria and Iraq have failed to defeat the Islamic State – and in some cases failed to interrupt its advance, raising questions about the western strategy for defeating the jihadi movement.

Photo caption: The US Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor which saw its first battle in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. One jet costs US$150 million.