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Iraq war could cost U.S. up to $13 billion

From Barbara Starr (CNN Pentagon)

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that a U.S. war against Iraq would cost between $9 billion and $13 billion, according to an initial estimate sent to the House and Senate.

The report says the estimate will swing widely depending on the size and composition of the force the U.S. may deploy to the Persian Gulf.

The budget office looked at two options to come up with the figure.

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One was termed a "heavy ground option" and emphasized the use of ground troops. It would cost about $13 billion to send about 370,000 troops to the Gulf. That force would be equipped with 1,500 aircraft, 800 attack and transport helicopters, 800 tanks and 60 ships.

A second so-called "heavy air option" emphasized the use of fighter and bomber aircraft. It would cost $9 billion to send 250,000 military personnel, according to the budget report. That force would be equipped with 2,500 aircraft, 500 attack and transport helicopters, 300 tanks and 60 ships.

Once U.S. troops, equipment and warplanes were in position to do battle, it would cost about $6 billion to $9 billion a month to run the war.

And when the war ended, a possible U.S. occupation of Iraq could run $4 billion a month. Such money could pay for 75,000 peacekeepers, presumably multinational forces, and the United States could consider asking other members of such a force to help pay the cost.

A decade ago, the United States was reimbursed for much of the cost of Operation Desert Storm against Iraq, by Saudi Arabia, from which the operation was launched, and Kuwait, which had been invaded by Saddam's troops.

The budget office said portions of the cost estimate were based on previous U.S. Army experiences in Kosovo and Bosnia. The report acknowledged that "another plan discussed by the U.S. Central Command calls for up to 200,000 troops."

The estimates and assumptions come with a caution that no one knows for certain the s possible size and composition of a U.S. force to defeat Iraq, and for what duration those forces might be deployed.

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