Iraq and Afghan War costs ‘to double’ for the UK

The costs of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq this year are likely to almost double to £3.297bn, a committee of MPs has warned.The Commons defence committee said operational costs for this financial year were now forecast to reach £3.297bn – a 94% increase on last year.

This included a “surprising” 72% rise in Iraq to £1.648bn, despite ongoing falls in troop numbers.

Last year’s total spending on the two conflicts was £1.698bn.

The cost of the Afghan conflict would rise 122% to £1.649bn this year, the MPs said.

‘Better information’

While the committee recommended that the House of Commons should accept the estimates, it said the Ministry of Defence needed to provide more information on how the additional cash was being spent.

Chairman James Arbuthnot said: “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 needs to provide better information about what it is all being spent on.”

Overall, the MoD has said it needs an additional £2.192 billion for the current financial year compared with its previous estimate made at the end of 2007.

The committee said it was concerned that the forecasts were “insufficiently robust”.

“While we accept the difficulty of predicting costs when operations are ongoing, the difference between the forecasts at the time of the winter and spring supplementary estimates appears unreasonably large,” it said.

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said: “This clearly shows how the Iraq war is continuing to bleed our finances dry, leaving soldiers in Afghanistan overstretched and under-equipped.”

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