THE US has spent more than $2.7bn on the war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants in Iraq and Syria since bombings began last August, and the average daily cost is now $9m, the Pentagon said yesterday.
Releasing a detailed breakdown of the costs for the first time, the defence department showed that the air force has borne two-thirds of the total spending, or more than $1.8bn. The daily combat, reconnaissance and other flights eat up more than $5m a day.
The data also provided a rare look into the often secret special operations costs, which totalled more than $200m since August.
The release of the spending totals came as Congress debated and rejected legislation on Thursday that would have banned spending on the combat operations until politicians passed a new war powers resolution.
Military operation costs have grown since air strikes began in Iraq in August, and then expanded to Syria the following month.
The bulk of the strikes have been in Iraq, as the US-led coalition strikes have tried to help Iraqi forces retake and hold key cities.
Other total costs include $438m for the Navy, including fighters and other ship support; $274m for the Army, which has trainers and special forces troops on the ground; $16m for military pay; $646m for munitions; and $21m for intelligence and surveillance operations.
The Pentagon's top general has also revealed in Washington that the US military's reach could extend even further into Iraq if the anti-Isil campaign gains momentum, and he held out the possibility of eventually recommending to President Barack Obama that US troops take on the riskier role of calling in airstrikes.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the White House's announcement on Wednesday that up to 450 more US troops would be sent to Iraq to invigorate its flagging campaign against the Isil is a natural extension of US assistance.
He said the support hub the troops will set up will not produce instant results but may serve as a model to be replicated elsewhere in Iraq, possibly requiring even more US troops.