Counter Notes and Sources

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More About the Cost of War Counters

[Last updated September 16, 2014]

The war cost counters running on the Cost of National Security homepage include all of the funding that has been appropriated by Congress for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through fiscal year 2014. These numbers reflect the allocation of $92.3 billion in January 2014 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014.

War Costs to Date

These totals are based on appropriations that provide funding through the end of fiscal year 2014. These figures include both military and non-military spending, such as reconstruction. Spending includes only incremental costs – those additional funds that are expended due to the war. For example, soldiers' regular pay is not included, but combat pay is included. Potential future costs, such as future medical care for soldiers and veterans wounded in the war, are not included. These figures also do not include interest payments on the national debt that will result from higher deficits due to war spending.

Total war funding, and costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, are based on analysis of legislation in which Congress has allocated money for war, as well as research by the Congressional Research Service. Cost of military action against ISIS is based on news reports of Pentagon cost estimates.

Annualized Costs of War in Iraq and Afghanistan


Cost of Military Action Against ISIS

The cost of military action against ISIS is so far included in the cost of wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, and the total cost of wars since 2001.

The estimate of the cost of military action against ISIS is based on news reports of average daily cost estimates for the conflict provided by Pentagon sources as follows:

The counter was last updated to reflect these estimates on Monday, November 10, 2014.

Costs of War in Iraq and Afghanistan

The funds allocated to the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq in fiscal year 2014 are found in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 that was signed by the president on Jan. 17, 2014, and became Public Law 113-76. The Consolidated Appropriations Act allocates war funding under the name of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) appropriations to the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Department of Defense

For fiscal 2014, OCO funding to the DoD totaled $85.1 billion. Of that total, $209 million from U.S. Air Force Operations & Maintenance accounts is authorized to be spent in Iraq for the purpose of funding the Office of Security Cooperation in order to provide training and related assistance to Iraqi security forces. National Priorities Project allocated the remaining $84.958 billion to the war effort in Afghanistan. While only $6.2 billion of that total is explicitly attached to Afghanistan, National Priorities Project has determined that all remaining OCO funds not explicitly designated for another country should be allocated to Afghanistan, given that no other major contingency operations are ongoing.

Department of State

Department of State OCO funding totaled $6.9 billion for fiscal year 2014. Of that total, National Priorities Project determined that $4.1 billion funded State Department operations in Afghanistan while $2.7 billion funded such operations in Iraq. According to the legislative language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, the majority of these State Department OCO funds were not designated toward any country-specific effort. To provide accurate accounting of these undesignated funds, the more detailed Department of State Congressional Budget Justification for fiscal year 2014 was analyzed to determine what percentages of the total OCO requests were related to Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. On the premise that State Department priorities for fiscal year 2014 operations remained constant between the time that passed between its budget request and appropriations, these percentages were applied to the total OCO funds appropriated to the State Department in order to derive country-specific totals for efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, the January 2014 Congressional Research Service report State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2014 Budget and Appropriations was used a resource. Finally, given that U.S. war-related efforts in Pakistan are an extension of the war in Afghanistan, National Priorities Project considered funds allocated towards Pakistan by the State Department to be part of war costs associated with Afghanistan.

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security OCO funding totaled $227 million in fiscal 2014. These funds were designated for U.S. Coast Guard contingency operations. While these funds were not designated for any country-specific purpose, National Priorities Project counted them towards efforts in Iraq, which unlike Afghanistan maintains maritime borders.

Legislation Appropriating War Funding and Supplemental Resources, 2001 – 2014

Name of Law Public Law No. Date Enacted
FY2001 Emerg. Supp. Approp. Act for Recovery from and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States PL 107-38 09/19/01
FY2002 Dept. of Defense and Emergency Terrorism Response Act P.L. 107-117 01/10/02
FY2002 Emergency Supplemental P.L. 107-206 8/2/02
FY2002 Regular Foreign Operations P.L. 107-115 01/10/02
FY2003 Consolidated Appropriations P.L. 108-7 2/20/03
FY2003 Emergency Supplemental P.L. 108-11 4/16/03
FY2003 DOD Appropriations P.L. 107-48 10/23/02
FY2004 DOD Appropriations Act P.L. 108-87 9/30/03
FY2004 Emergency Supplemental P.L. 108-106 11/6/03
FY2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act P.L. 108-199 1/23/04
FY2005 DOD Appropriations Act, Titles IX and X P.L. 108-287 8/5/04
FY2005 Supplemental Appropriations P.L. 109-13 5/11/05
FY2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act P.L. 108-447 12/8/04
FY2005 DOD Appropriations Act P.L. 108-287 8/5/04
FY2006 DOD Appropriations Act, Title IX P.L. 109-148 12/30/05
FY2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations P.L. 109-102 11/14/05
FY2006 Science, State, & Rel. Agencies Appropriations Act P.L. 109-108 11/22/05
FY2006 Interior & Rel. Ag. Appropriations P.L. 109-54 8/2/05
FY2006 Military Quality of Life & Veterans Affairs P.L. 109-114 11/30/05
FY2006 Emergency Supplemental P.L. 109-234 6/14/06
FY2007 DOD Appropriations Act, Baseline and Title IX P.L. 109-289 9/29/06
FY2007 Continuing Resolution P.L. 110-5 2/15/07
FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations Act P.L. 110-28 5/25/07
FY2008 Continuing Resolution P.L. 110-92 9/29/07
FY2008 DOD Appropriations Act P.L. 110-116 11/13/07
FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act P.L. 110-161 12/26/07
FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations Act P.L. 110-252 6/30/08
FY2009 Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act P.L. 110-329 09/30/08
FY2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act P.L. 111-32 06/24/09
FY2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act P.L. 111-83 10/28/09
FY2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act P.L. 111-117 12/16/09
FY2010 DOD Appropriations Act P.L. 111-118 12/16/09
FY2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act P.L. 111-212 07/29/10
Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2011 P.L. 112-10 4/15/2011
FY11 Defense Department “Overseas Contingency Operations” Tables (submitted for printing in Congressional Record), House Committee on Rules as part of H.R. 1473—Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 N/A 4/13/2011
Conference Report 112-331, to accompany the Fiscal Year 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2055) P.L.112-74 12/17/2011
Senate explanitory statements to accompany H.R. 933, Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 P.L.113-6 3/26/2013
H.R. 993, Defense (Division C) P.L.113-6 3/26/2013
H.R. 993, Homeland Security (Division D) P.L.113-6 3/26/2013
H.R. 993, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs (Division E) P.L.113-6 3/26/2013
U.S. Department of State FY2014 Budget Request, Executive Budget Summary – Function 150 and Other International Programs N/A 4/10/2013
CRS: State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs: FY2014 Budget and Appropriations N/A 1/16/14
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 P.L.113-76 1/17/14

Local Percentages of Federal Income Taxes

To estimate how much each locality pays for the costs of national security, NPP assigns each state, county, city, and congressional district in the U.S. a percentage that represents the area's share of the total U.S. income tax bill.


To assign the state percentages, we use state-level data from the IRS's Individual Master File System. Specifically, Historic Table 2: Individual Income and Tax Data, by State and Size of Adjusted Gross Income, Tax Year 2011: [i].

To get the percentage for each state, we divide its Income tax amount by the US Income tax amount [ii].

Zip Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA)

Zip code tabulation areas (ZCTAs) are the Census Bureau's version of postal service zip codes. The basis for all sub-state multipliers is ZCTA rather than the USPS zip code, because ZCTAs can be allocated to other geographic areas of interest, such as congressional districts and counties.

To determine the percentage of total federal individual income tax contributed by each ZCTA, we start with Individual Income Tax ZIP Code Data compiled by the IRS: [iii]. We use tax year 2011 numbers.

To get the percentage of total taxes paid for each ZCTA, we do the following:

  1. Convert the U.S. Postal Service zip codes on the IRS report to their corresponding ZCTAs using this crosswalk file.
  2. Sum column A06500 (Income Tax Paid After Credits) of the IRS report by ZCTA [ii].
  3. For each ZCTA, divide the amount paid (from step 2) by the total U.S. income taxes [iv].

Counties, Places, and Congressional Districts

The Individual Income Tax ZIP Code Data is also the basis for the county, place, and congressional district taxes paid. To get those numbers, we follow steps 1 and 2 above. Then we match the ZCTAs with county, place, and 113th congressional district boundaries using the Missouri Census Data Center's MABLE Geographic Correspondence Engine with Census 2010 Geography .

MABLE maps each ZCTA to a county or counties. Separate downloads do the same thing for places and congressional districts. When a ZCTA covers more than one county, place, or congressional district, MABLE provides an allocation to describe how much of the ZCTA belongs to each. This allocation is Census 2010 population-based.

For example, consider ZCTA 19317 in Pennsylvania. According to MABLE, 45% of the 19317 population live in Chester County, and 55% live in Delaware. Therefore, when determining the income taxes paid for each county, 45% of the 19317 amount will be assigned to Chester, and 55% will be assigned to Delaware.

Once we have the allocations from MABLE, we do the following calculations three times—once each for counties, places, and congressional districts.

  1. For each ZCTA, multiply the taxes paid (from the ZCTA-summarized IRS data) by the allocation percentage for its corresponding counties/places/congressional districts.
  2. Summarize the results by county/places/congressional district to get the total income taxes paid for that area.
  3. Divide each area's total taxes by the total U.S. income taxes. This number is the sum of column A06500 in the original IRS taxes by zip code file.


i Because this site is based on income tax numbers, money for all programs in the trade-offs comes from federal funds.

ii Income tax amount reflects income taxes owed after the deduction of non-refundable credits. The amount has not been reflected to adjust for the earned income credit or for refundable credits such as the health coverage credit, and additional child tax credit. A complete list of these refundable credits is on the payments section of the 1040.

iii To protect individual identities, some returns and zip codes are excluded from IRS zip code-level reports. See the IRS documentation for details (MS Word doc).

iv For the few ZCTAs that contain two states, we assign the ZCTA to the state that contains most of its population. This assignment doesn’t change the trade-offs calculations—if affects only how the user would search for that ZCTA/”city”.