Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!

2004-04-13

Cost per soldier



Whoops! I badly misread Mark's post. He's suggesting a $2,500 per year for soldiers in a reconstituted Iraqi army, which is actually an excellent suggestion. Below is what I originally posted, which may be of interest to someone at some time (and so all the world can see my mistake—that's what I get for reading hastily!)






Mark Kleiman wonders why be cheap about sending more troops to Iraq. Assuming a cost per soldier of $2,500, he figures that $250 million per 100,000 soldiers is a not much of a price to pay. Ignoring the fact that the real price has nothing to do with dollars and cents, I think he's underestimating the cost of a soldier. Off the top of my head, I estimated that it's got to be at least $50,000 per soldier. I did a Google search and found data indicating that during World War II, when a candy bar sold for 5¢ (vs $2.25 in 1996), soldiers cost about $7,000 a year and that, today, each one costs about $67,000 a year. So 100,000 soldiers would be more like $6.7 billion. Still a relatively small portion of the $100 billion we're likely to spend this year, but lots more than $250 million.



Yes, I know the marginal cost of sending one troop to Iraq is not $67,000. But it's got to cost $2,500 just to fly one there and back, let alone provide the appropriate equipment (assuming we're going to do that from now on).



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