White House won’t estimate cost of ISIS war

The White House does not have an estimate on how much the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will cost.

Pressed on that point Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest wouldn't give a ballpark figure for how much the administration expected military operations to cost.

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“I don’t have an estimate on that,” Earnest said. “I know that we’re interested in having an open dialogue with Congress to ensure that our military has the resources necessary to carry out the mission that the president has laid out.”

So far, the administration has relied on the Overseas Contingency Operations budget to pay for operations against the terrorist group. The White House had previously requested a cut in that pool — from $85 billion to $58.6 billion — for the next fiscal year, but lawmakers decided instead to keep funding at current levels in the temporary budget measure passed last week.

The White House also indicated it would seek funding for the effort against ISIS from international partners. So far, more than 40 countries have said they would support a coalition effort against the terror network.

“One way that countries can participate in this coalition and contribute to the broader effort is financially, to support the broader international community’s efforts to take the fight to [ISIS],” Earnest said.

Last month, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that operations in Iraq — which included airstrikes, beefed up embassy security and surveillance flights — cost approximately $7.5 million per day. That suggests efforts so far have cost somewhere around $735 million, although that figure may have jumped with the expansion of military efforts.

The U.S. has launched more than 170 airstrikes against ISIS so far, and is conducting around 5 dozen surveillance flights per day.