Cost of US war against Isis passes $780m as Pentagon hints at request for more

Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Monday 29 September 2014 14.00 EDT

The cost of the US-led war against the Islamic State (Isis) militant group has totalled at least $780m, according to a new estimate, as US drones and warplanes continued to attack Isis positions in Iraq and Syria on Monday.

The US defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, said on Friday that the US military is spending up to $10m a day and is likely to request more money from Congress to fund a war whose duration is uncertain. In August, before the US expanded strikes against Isis into Syria, the Pentagon estimated its daily war costs at $7.5m and has yet to provide a more precise estimate.

The Center on Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), a thinktank influential with the Pentagon, estimated on Monday that the air war has already cost between $780m and $930m between 8 August, when it began, and 24 September.

Should the US deploy a ground force of 25,000 US troops, as advocated by Iraq surge architect Frederick Kagan, annual costs would run “as high as $13bn to $22bn”. An air campaign with a higher operational tempo and a 5,000-troop deployment would cost between $350m and $570m per month and $4.2bn to $6.8bn each year.

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, opened the door to US ground combat alongside Iraqi and Kurdish forces in congressional testimony earlier this month. He and Hagel on Friday anticipated asking Congress for additional money in the military’s baseline budget, which already stands at about $500,000, excluding nearly $59bn in requested war funding, mostly for Afghanistan.

That war funding is “gas money“, Dempsey said, above the strains that a new and budgetarily unanticipated war are likely to have on the funding assumptions of the military services.

Blow to Detroit’s poorest as judge rules water shutoffs can continue

Dominic Rushe, The Guardian

Monday 29 September 2014 11.04 EDT

The judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy ruled Monday that the city can continue to shut off water if people can’t pay their bill.

Judge Steven Rhodes said there was no “enforceable right” to water and the Detroit water department would face a significant risk of higher defaults if a moratorium was issued. “The last thing it needs is this hit to its revenues,” he said.

Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) began shutting off water to customers who were behind on payments this spring, cutting off around 22,000 people between March and August.

The judge, who is overseeing Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, the largest in US history, said bankruptcy law doesn’t grant the authority to interfere with city services. “Detroit cannot afford any revenue slippage,” he said.

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