Global War on Terrorism:

Reported Obligations for the Department of Defense

GAO-09-233R: Published: Dec 15, 2008. Publicly Released: Dec 15, 2008.

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Since 2001, Congress has provided the Department of Defense (DOD) with about $808 billion in supplemental and annual appropriations, as of September 2008, primarily 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 $162.4 billion in fiscal year 2008. 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 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.

As of September 2008, Congress has appropriated a total of about $808 billion primarily for GWOT operations since 2001. Of that amount, about $187 billion has been provided for fiscal year 2008. In addition, about $65.9 billion was appropriated in fiscal year 2008 for fiscal year 2009 but was not available for obligation in fiscal year 2008. DOD will likely request additional funds for fiscal year 2009. DOD has reported obligations of about $654.7 billion for military operations in support of the war from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2008. The $152.2 billion difference between DOD's appropriations and reported obligations can generally be attributed to 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 non-DOD classified and other activities, which DOD considers to be non-GWOT related, that are not reported in DOD's cost-of-war reports. This difference also includes the $65.9 billion appropriated for fiscal year 2009. As part of our ongoing work, we are reviewing DOD's rationale for reporting its GWOT related obligations.

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