Monday, June 6, 2011

Cost of Operation Odyssey Dawn

According to the Air Force Association Daily Report, the USAF has spent $270 million on air operations in Libya (as of May 22nd). Officials are still trying to figure out how to pay for all of this. For the time being, "Libya operations are being cash-flowed internally,"Air Force spokesman Andre Kok told the Daily Report. At the same time, the Department of Defense intends to cut $400 billion over the next 12 fiscal years. The need to reduce government spending would seem to argue against continuing operations in Libya, especially since this is a NATO operation. The United States flew 1,206 of the 1,990 sorties during Operation Odyssey Dawn—the term for the air operation before NATO took control on March 31. However, US forces (both Navy and USAF) continue to support operations. As of mid May, total costs for Odyssey Dawn to the United States is $750 million.

Cautioning that federal spending had a way of getting out of control, Senator Dirksen observed, “A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."

The 101st is returning from Afghanistan and commanders are struggling with their troops doubts (and their own) if their sacrifices made any difference. Their poignant introspection seems to apply equally to Libya. What did we get for the $750 million? Even if Qaddafi steps down or is killed, who takes over? What does the change in Libyan leadership mean for the US and rest of the world?

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