Global War on Terrorism:

Reported Obligations for the Department of Defense

GAO-08-557R: Published: Mar 17, 2008. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 2008.

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Since 2001, Congress has provided the Department of Defense (DOD) with hundreds of billions of dollars in supplemental and annual appropriations for military operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). DOD's reported annual obligations for GWOT have shown a steady increase from about $0.2 billion in fiscal year 2001 to about $139.8 billion in fiscal year 2007. To continue GWOT operations, the President requested $189.3 billion in appropriations for DOD in fiscal year 2008. Through December 2007, Congress has provided DOD with about $86.8 billion of this request, including $16.8 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. As of February 2008, Congress has not taken action on the remaining $102.5 billion. The United States' commitments to GWOT will likely involve the continued investment of significant resources, requiring decision makers to consider difficult trade-offs as the nation faces an increasing long-range fiscal challenge. The magnitude of future costs will depend on several direct and indirect cost variables and, in some cases, decisions that have not yet been made. DOD's future costs will likely be affected by the pace and duration of operations, the types of facilities needed to support troops overseas, redeployment plans, and the amount of equipment to be repaired or replaced. DOD compiles and reports monthly and cumulative incremental obligations incurred to support GWOT in a monthly Supplemental and Cost of War Execution Report. DOD leadership uses this report, along with other information, to advise Congress on the costs of the war and to formulate future GWOT budget requests. DOD reports these obligations by appropriation, contingency operation, and military service or defense agency. The monthly cost reports are typically compiled within the 45 days after the end of the reporting month in which the obligations are incurred. DOD has prepared monthly reports on the obligations incurred for its involvement in GWOT since fiscal year 2001. Section 1221 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 requires GAO to submit quarterly updates to Congress on the costs of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom based on DOD's monthly Supplemental and Cost of War Execution Reports. This report, which responds to this requirement, contains our analysis of DOD's reported obligations for military operations in support of GWOT through December 2007. Specifically, we assessed (1) DOD's cumulative appropriations and reported obligations for military operations in support of GWOT and (2) DOD's fiscal year 2008 reported obligations through December 2007, the latest data available for GWOT by military service and appropriation account.

From fiscal year 2001 through December 2007, Congress has provided DOD with about $635.9 billion for its efforts in support of GWOT. DOD has reported obligations of about $527 billion for military operations in support of the war from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2007 and for fiscal year 2008 through December 2007. The $108.9 billion difference between DOD's GWOT appropriations and reported obligations can generally be attributed to certain fiscal year 2008 appropriations and multiyear funding for procurement; military construction; and research, development, test, and evaluation from previous GWOT-related appropriations that have yet to be obligated, and obligations for classified and other activities, which are not reported in DOD's cost-of-war reports. Of DOD's total cumulative reported obligations for GWOT through December 2007 (about $527 billion), about $406.2 billion is for operations in and around Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and about $92.9 billion is for operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, and elsewhere as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The remaining about $28 billion is for operations in defense of the homeland as part of Operation Noble Eagle. DOD's reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom have consistently increased each fiscal year since operations began. The increases in reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom are in part because of continued costs for military personnel, such as military pay and allowances for mobilized reservists, and for rising operation and maintenance expenses, such as higher contract costs for housing, food, and services and higher fuel costs. In contrast, DOD's reported obligations for Operation Noble Eagle have consistently decreased since fiscal year 2003, largely because of the completion of repairs to the Pentagon and upgrades in security at military installations that were onetime costs, as well as a reduction in combat air patrols and in the number of reserve personnel guarding government installations. In fiscal year 2008, through December 2007, DOD's total reported obligations of about $34.8 billion are about one quarter of the total amount of obligations it reported for all of fiscal year 2007. Reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to account for the largest portion of total reported GWOT obligations by operation--about $28.1 billion. In contrast, reported obligations associated with Operation Enduring Freedom total about $6.6 billion, and reported obligations associated with Operation Noble Eagle total about $49.6 million. The Army accounts for the largest portion of reported obligations for fiscal year 2008 through December 2007--about $27.2 billion, nearly 11 times higher than the almost $2.5 billion in obligations reported for the Air Force, the military service with the next greatest reported amount. Reported obligations for procurement account for about 27 percent of reported obligations, or about $9.4 billion. Of the $43.6 billion provided to DOD for procurement in fiscal year 2007, approximately 21 percent, or $9.1 billion, has yet to be obligated and remains available in fiscal year 2008.

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