Global War on Terrorism:

Reported Obligations for the Department of Defense

GAO-09-449R: Published: Mar 30, 2009. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 2009.

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Since 2001, Congress has provided the Department of Defense (DOD) with about $808 billion in supplemental and annual appropriations, as of March 2009, primarily for military operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). DOD's reported annual obligations for GWOT have shown a steady increase from about $0.2 billion in fiscal year 2001 to about $162.4 billion in fiscal year 2008. For fiscal year 2009, Congress provided DOD with about $65.9 billion in supplemental appropriations for GWOT as of March 2009 and the President plans on requesting an additional $75.5 billion in supplemental appropriations for GWOT for the remainder of the fiscal year. A total of $31.0 billion has been obligated in the first quarter of fiscal year 2009 through December 2008. The United States' commitments to GWOT will likely involve the continued investment of significant resources, requiring decision makers to consider difficult trade-offs as the nation faces an increasing long-range fiscal challenge. The magnitude of future costs will depend on several direct and indirect cost variables and, in some cases, decisions that have not yet been made. DOD's future costs will likely be affected by the pace and duration of operations, the types of facilities needed to support troops overseas, redeployment plans, and the amount of equipment to be repaired or replaced. DOD compiles and reports monthly and cumulative incremental obligations incurred to support GWOT in a monthly report commonly called the Contingency Operations Status of Funds Report. DOD leadership uses this report, along with other information, to advise Congress on the costs of the war and to formulate future GWOT budget requests. DOD reports these obligations by appropriation, contingency operation, and military service or defense agency. DOD has prepared monthly reports on the obligations incurred for its involvement in GWOT since fiscal year 2001. Section 1221 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 requires GAO to submit quarterly updates to Congress on the costs of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom based on DOD's monthly cost-of-war reports. This report, which responds to this requirement, contains our analysis of DOD's reported obligations for military operations in support of GWOT through December 2008. Specifically, we assessed (1) DOD's cumulative appropriations and reported obligations for military operations in support of GWOT and (2) DOD's fiscal year 2009 reported obligations from October 2008 through December 2008, the latest data available for GWOT by military service and appropriation account.

As of December 2008, Congress has appropriated a total of about $808 billion primarily for GWOT operations since 2001. Of that amount, about $187 billion has been provided for fiscal year 2008 and about $65.9 billion has been appropriated for use in fiscal year 2009. DOD plans on requesting an additional $75.5 billion in supplemental funds for fiscal year 2009. DOD has reported obligations of about $685.7 billion for military operations in support of the war from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2008 and for fiscal year 2009 (October through December 2008). The $122.3 billion difference between DOD's appropriations and reported obligations can generally be attributed to multiyear funding for procurement; military construction; and research, development, test, and evaluation from previous GWOT-related appropriations that have yet to be obligated; and obligations for classified and other items, which DOD considers to be non-GWOT related, that are not reported in DOD's costof- war reports. DOD's reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom have consistently increased each fiscal year since operations began. The increases in reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom are in part due to continued costs for military personnel, such as military pay and allowances for mobilized reservists, and for rising operation and maintenance expenses, such as higher contract costs for housing, food, and services and higher fuel costs. In contrast, DOD's reported obligations for Operation Noble Eagle have consistently decreased since fiscal year 2003, largely because of the completion of repairs to the Pentagon and upgrades in security at military installations that were onetime costs, as well as a reduction in combat air patrols and in the number of reserve personnel guarding government installations. Reported obligations for Operation Enduring Freedom have ranged from $10.3 billion to $20.1 billion each fiscal year since 2003. Recent increases in reported obligations for Operation Enduring Freedom are in part caused by higher troop levels in Afghanistan, the costs associated with training Afghan security forces, and the need to repair and replace equipment after several years of ongoing operations. DOD's reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom have consistently increased each fiscal year since operations began. The increases in reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom are in part due to continued costs for military personnel, such as military pay and allowances for mobilized reservists, and for rising operation and maintenance expenses, such as higher contract costs for housing, food, and services and higher fuel costs. In addition, the need to repair and replace equipment because of the harsh combat and environmental conditions in theater and the ongoing costs associated with the surge strategy announced in January 2007, which provided for the deployment of additional troops, have further increased obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In contrast, DOD's reported obligations for Operation Noble Eagle have consistently decreased since fiscal year 2003, largely because of the completion of repairs to the Pentagon and upgrades in security at military installations that were onetime costs, as well as a reduction in combat air patrols and in the number of reserve personnel guarding government installations. Reported obligations for Operation Enduring Freedom have ranged from $10.3 billion to $20.1 billion each fiscal year since 2003. Recent increases in reported obligations for Operation Enduring Freedom are in part caused by higher troop levels in Afghanistan, the costs associated with training Afghan security forces, and the need to repair and replace equipment after several years of ongoing operations.

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