Kosovo war cost may be as much as $6.5 billion

Nonpartisan group adds bombing, peacekeeping

Peace In Yugoslavia

June 16, 1999|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- With the Pentagon still calculating the cost of the 78-day bombardment of Yugoslavia, a nonpartisan research group estimates that the United States will pay as much as $6.5 billion for the bombing campaign and the first year of peacekeeping.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has estimated that the airstrikes cost the United States between $1.8 billion and $3 billion, with an additional $2 billion to $3.5 billion for the 7,000 U.S. troops that will be part of the 50,000-member international peacekeeping force.

"It's a very rough ballpark estimate," said Steven Kosiak, the center's director of budget studies, noting that the biggest part of the cost will be for bombs and missiles.

Of the 23,000 bombs dropped by some 1,000 allied aircraft and ships, the most expensive are the Tomahawk missiles; the ship-launched variety cost $1 million each while the air-launched version is $2 million, said CSBA analysts.

Last week, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said officials were still working on a cost estimate for the bombing campaign, for which the United States provided an estimated 700 aircraft.

The center said the cost to U.S. allies of the air war would be about $500 million to $1 billion.

Cohen said the cost of replacing bombs and missiles used in the air campaign and the costs of returning troops and aircraft to their home bases would be "substantial."

The cost of peacekeeping could be about $2 billion per year, roughly the cost of maintaining the 6,000 U.S. troops in Bosnia, he said.

Kosiak and other CSBA analysts said they included the costs of both ordnance and redeployment in their estimates, which used the Persian Gulf war as a model.

Whether the administration will have to seek more money from Congress is uncertain.

Lawmakers have approved $6 billion in emergency spending to finance the air war through September, more than enough to cover both the air war and the first year of peacekeeping.

Cohen has said he thought some of the money could be used to pay for the initial U.S. troops who will be used in the peacekeeping force.

Pub Date: 6/16/99

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