UK war costs double as equipment replacement soars
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
London, March 11, IRNA
The combined cost of Britain's military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq is expected to almost double in the year ending March 2008, according to an all-party group of MPs.
A reported by the Defence Select Committee showed that the cost of operations by British forces in Afghanistan has risen to more than Pnds 1.6 billion (Dlrs 3.2 bn), a year-on-year increase of 122 percent compared with 2006/07.
More surprisingly, given the reduction in troops in Iraq, the cost of Britain's military deployment there has also increased to Pnds 1.6 bn, a year-on-year rise of 72 percent.
The combined costs, about 50 percent more than the government forecast three months ago, come as military officials have made it clear that the number of British troops in Iraq would not now be cut to 2,500 by spring, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested.
Committee chair James Arbuthnot said that few people will object to the investment being made in better facilities and equipment for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"However, this estimate represents a lot of public money. The MoD (Ministry of Defence) needs to provide better information about what it is all being spent on," Arbuthnot warned.
The sharpest increases were for buying, repairing and replacing new armoured vehicles and other equipment acquired under a special Urgent Operation Requirements system, referred to as UORs.
The total cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the so-called war on terrorism began back in 2001 now totals some Pnds 10 bn, compared with only some Pnds 7 bn previously set aside.
A new book published last month, co-authored by Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank, said that the cost of Britain's two wars was expected to rise to more than Pnds 20 bn, including social costs, by 2010.
Nick Harvey, Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, warned that the new parliamentary report "clearly shows how the Iraq war is continuing to bleed our finances dry, leaving soldiers in Afghanistan overstretched and under-equipped."
Kate Hudson, the chair of CND peace group, said there was also clear human costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are clear, with an estimated 655,000 dead in Iraq alone.
"The opportunities lost by spending these billions on further destruction rather than on humanitarian reconstruction adds to the long list of tragedies unleashed by Bush's wars," Hudson said.
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