Press Release

The Costs of Staying the Course in Iraq

Center for American Progress releases new memo and video in advance of President Bush’s speech

Washington, DC – In a June 2007 interview, Gen. David Petraeus said that “historically counterinsurgency operations [like Iraq] have gone nine or 10 years.” Despite General Petraeus’ estimations, President Bush has not yet articulated the projected costs in both blood and treasure associated with a decade-long troop presence in Iraq. Based on past expenditures and casualties, we at the Center for American Progress offer this conservative projection of the costs of 10 more years of U.S. troops in Iraq.


The cost in terms of our troops’ lives is more difficult to calculate. The war in Iraq is dynamic, and projections of future casualties are dependent on U.S. troop levels, tactics, and the strength of the insurgency, among other variables. While we hesitate to calculate this and make no predictions, one must be aware of the possible number of casualties that could occur for the time we remain in Iraq.

If you consider the lowest rate at which our troops were killed (in 2006), we suffered 822 deaths that year. If you consider the highest rate at which our troops were killed (2007 thus far), we suffered just over three deaths per day, which would translate to 1,117 total deaths this year. Thus if we were to remain in Iraq for another 10 years, we could well suffer between 8,220 and 11,167 additional deaths.

The number of wounded would be even greater. If you consider the lowest rate at which our troops have suffered casualties (2005), we suffered just over 16 wounded per day. If you consider the highest rate at which our troops have suffered casualties (2004), we suffered almost 22 wounded per day. Thus if we were to remain in Iraq for another 10 years, we could suffer between 59,500 and 80,000 additional wounded.

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) put it well during Gen. Petreaus’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he asked: “Are we going to continue to invest American blood and treasure at the same rate we are doing now, for what?” It is time to stop recklessly endangering the lives of brave the men and women serving in Iraq as well as the national security of this country and begin a strategic reset in the region and a redeployment of our forces out of Iraq.

Much Ado Bout Nothing – A New CAP Video

In a new video, The Center for American Progress sets the facts straight in advance of President Bush’s speech to the nation on the troop surge policy in Iraq. The surge will end in 2008, not because it has been effective, but because the Army lacks sufficient troops and faces a military readiness crisis. A link to the video and a transcript follow.

Click here to see the video:


President Bush will announce an end to the U.S. troop surge in Iraq.

The surge will not end until 2008.

It is out of necessity.

The army is at the breaking point.

Larry Korb: The September report was basically much ado about nothing because nothing was decided. What we decided to do was take the surge which was supposed to last six months and make it eighteen months. The president is making a virtue out of necessity. You cannot continue the surge past next spring.

Rand Beers: And there are not enough replacement troops for all the troops that are currently in Iraq.

Brian Katulis: And it has nothing to do with conditions on the ground. And has everything to do with the excessive strains that our men and women are facing over there in Iraq.

Larry Korb: When the president completes this draw down in the summer of 2008 we’ll be back to where we were before he started the surge with no meaningful political progress and an awful lot of American blood and money spent.

Last year, the Center for American Progress partnered with Foreign Policy Magazine to survey a bipartisan sample of top national security experts.

In August of 2007, the third edition of “The Terrorism Index” was published.

The findings were grim.

Caroline Wadhams: Ninety-two percent of those experts believe that the war in Iraq has had a negative impact on U.S. national security

Rand Beers: And that we are very vulnerable to another attack on the United States.

Larry Korb: Even conservatives feel that the war in Iraq is not making the U.S. safer.

General David Petraeus told members of Congress the U.S. might be in Iraq for the next 10 years.

Rand Beers: A major U.S. presence in Iraq for the next ten years means that the Untied States will be mired in a problem that we cannot ultimately determine and we will be unable to deal with the other problems in the world.

Caroline Wadhams: We’re not winning the war on terror. Al-Qaeda has reconstituted itself. Perceptions of the United States are at all time lows around the world, especially in the Muslim Arab world, and there’s no end in sight.

Which way forward?

Brian Katulis: All indications are that President Bush has no clear idea of what the way forward is. We still don’t have the answers to the most important questions; the strategic questions of: what is the end state, how long will it take us to get there? These questions I don’t think President Bush has a clear answer to because I think his strategy here is simply to hand off the Iraq policy to his successor.

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