The Afghanistan War Led to 2,456 US Military Deaths and Cost an Estimated $2.3 Trillion, Per A-Mark Foundation Report

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A new report on the costs of the 20-year war in Afghanistan also found that 20,763 US service members were wounded and an estimated 3,923 US Department of Defense contractors and civilians died in the conflict.

The A-Mark Foundation released a new report titled, "Afghanistan War: US Military and Department of Defense Casualties & Dollars Spent 2001 to 2021." The report looks at the costs of the war in Afghanistan in terms of US military and Department of Defense (DOD) civilian contractor casualties as well as financial expenditures.

The Department of Defense’s Defense Casualty Analysis System tracked a total of 2,456 US military deaths and 20,763 wounded during the course of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (October 2001 through August 2021).

President George W. Bush started the war in Afghanistan, and saw 626 US military deaths during his time in office. During Barack Obama’s presidency, 1,752 US troops died, while 65 service members died under Donald Trump from 2017-2020, and 13 deaths occurred during Joe Biden’s presidency before the last troops left Afghanistan on August 30, 2021.

In addition to US military deaths, at least 3,917 US DOD contractors and six DOD civilian employees died in the Afghanistan War, a total of 3,923 deaths. The civilian contractor death totals are believed to be incomplete, and many US contractors were citizens of other countries.

The Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute at Boston University estimated total US costs for the Afghanistan War at $2.261 trillion, which does not include future costs that may be incurred for veteran care or future interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the war.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), an oversight authority created by Congress, reported that the United States spent $969.3 billion on the 20-year Afghanistan War. That estimate is missing cost categories that account for about $1.3 trillion of the Costs of War Project estimate: $443 billion in war-related increased spending over the DOD base budget, $296 billion in medical and disability costs for veterans of the Afghanistan War, and $530 billion in interest on war borrowing.

Steven C. Markoff, founder and CEO of the A-Mark Foundation, explained that the report is intended to present the numbers without any analysis or spin. "In keeping with our mission to present unbiased research, the facts should speak for themselves," Markoff said. "The United States incurred costs, both in human lives and financially, while fighting in Afghanistan for 20 years. This report is a resource for people who want to see those costs laid out plainly."

Other related research from the A-Mark Foundation includes a report on the Benghazi attacks and a searchable database with 7,800 sourced quotes covering 9/11 and related events. Learn more at amarkfoundation.org.

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Tracey DeFrancesco
The A-Mark Foundation
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