Monday, May 16, 2011

Gates Puts Cost of Libya Mission at $750 Million

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Thursday that the air offensive in Libya had cost the Pentagon $750 million so far, more than originally expected for a conflict that Mr. Gates said he had never imagined the United States would enter.

“If you’d asked me four months ago if we’d be in Libya today, I would have asked, ‘What were you smoking?’ ” Mr. Gates told Marines during a visit to Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Last month, the Pentagon estimated the cost of the offensive from its start on March 19 until April 4 at $600 million, with continuing costs expected to be around $40 million per month. On Thursday, Mr. Gates did not give a reason for the higher price tag.

In comparison, the war in Afghanistan costs the United States $100 billion a year. But unlike those costs, which are paid from a supplemental contingency fund, the expenses for Libya come out of the Pentagon budget.

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