Notes and Sources

Cost of National Security Counters

[Last updated May 28, 2015]

The Cost of National Security counters examine different aspects of “security,” including military security, homeland security, income and opportunity security, and more.

 All counters present nominal (non-inflation-adjusted) dollars and budgeted amounts through the end of fiscal year 2015.

More About the Cost of War Counters

The war cost counters include all of the funding that has been appropriated by Congress through fiscal year 2015. These numbers reflect the allocation of $73.3 billion for “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO) in December 2014 as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015.

NPP maintains counters for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the conflict against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), and a “slush fund” portion of OCO that has increasingly drawn attention because it does not relate directly to any of these conflicts, but instead has been used to evade legislated budget caps (under the Budget Control Act of 2011 and related legislation) and funnel more money to the Pentagon for its non-war operations.

War Costs to Date

What is Included: These totals are based on appropriations that provide funding for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account through the end of fiscal year 2015. These figures include both military and non-military OCO spending, such as reconstruction and funds for the Department of State.

What is Not 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. Regular military pay (non-combat pay) and routine military operations and acquisitions are not included except to the extent they may be funded by the non-war portion of OCO.

These numbers are based on analysis of legislation in which Congress has allocated money for OCO, as well as research by the Congressional Research Service, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, and budget documents released by the White House Office of Management and Budget and by relevant federal agencies.

Annual Costs of War

Note: Annual costs of the Pentagon slush fund prior to 2015 are not shown because annual estimates were not available. For the period from 2001 through 2014, non-war OCO spending was determined by the Congressional Research Service to total $70.9 billion. Instead, slush funds for those years appear as part of funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The funds allocated under Overseas Contingency Operations in fiscal year 2015 are found in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. The Consolidated Appropriations Act allocates war funding under the name of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) appropriations to the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of State. For more detail on how total OCO funding for fiscal year 2015 was assigned to each of NPP’s war counters, see below.

Department of Defense

Department of Defense Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding is $64 billion for fiscal year 2015. The majority of this funding is not explicitly assigned to a specific conflict in the legislation, so other sources were used to estimate funding by conflict area.

The $64 billion in OCO defense funds is allocated as follows: $30 billion for the Pentagon slush fund (according to best estimates by the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment), $5 billion for the fight against ISIS (according to the 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act), $300 million for the fight in Iraq (according to a January 2015 Congressional Research Service report based on revised administration requests), and the remaining $28.7 billion for the fight in Afghanistan. Previous NPP estimates showed higher Afghanistan totals because they assigned Pentagon slush fund spending to Afghanistan.

Prior to fiscal year 2015, funds were assigned by conflict based on specific amounts set aside as identified in legislation wherever possible, except:

Department of State

Department of State OCO funding is $9.258 billion for fiscal year 2015. The majority of this funding is not explicitly assigned to a specific conflict in the legislation, so other sources were used to estimate funding by conflict area.

NPP used the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Congressional Budget Justification for fiscal year 2015 to determine what share of the OCO funding was related to each conflict, and assumed the same share applied to the final legislation, even though total spending differed. Country totals for Pakistan were assigned to the Afghanistan conflict; country totals for Syria were assigned to the ISIS conflict.

The result is that Department of State OCO funding in fiscal year 2015 is $6.4 billion for Afghanistan, $391.6 million for ISIS, $725.2 million for Iraq, and $1.8 billion unassigned (included in the total cost of war but not the conflict-specific counters).


Legislation Appropriating War Funding and Supplemental Resources, 2001 – 2015

Name of LawPublic 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
Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 P.L.113-235 12/16/2014
Department of State, Foreign Operation, and Related Programs Fiscal Year 2015 Congressional Budget Justification N/A 3/4/2014
“Magic Money”: DoD’s Overseas Contingency Budget Might Dry Up N/A 6/29/2014
Congressional Research Services, Defense: FY2015 Authorization and Appropriations N/A 1/28/2015

More About Non-War Counters     

These include non-war (non-OCO) defense and homeland security counters, as well as counters that reflect federal investment in other forms of security: foreign aid, education, environment, housing assistance, nutrition assistance, and health care.

Non-war counters are based on budget allotments for fiscal year 2015 according to the Office of Management and Budget’s Public Budget Database, Budget Authority, as follows, unless otherwise noted. Both mandatory and discretionary budgeted amounts are included.

Department of Defense

Budget authority agency budget for Department of Defense – Military Programs, less Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) DoD funding of $64 billion. This also does not include spending for veterans’ benefits and programs.


Budget authority subfunctions 501 (Elementary, secondary and vocational education), 502 (Higher education), and 503 (Research and general education aids).


Budget Authority subfunctions 301 (Water resources), 302 (Conservation and land management), and 304 (Pollution control and abatement).

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request, FY 2015, F-35 amount. This reflects the research and production costs of the F-35 program, but does not include costs related to aircraft that have already been purchased, such as maintenance and pilot training.

Foreign Aid

Budget authority subfunction 151 (International development and humanitarian assistance). This does not include foreign military aid, the operations of the State Department, or contributions toward international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.

Foreign Military Assistance

Budget authority subfunction 152 (International security assistance).

Homeland Security Since 2001

Office of Management and Budget appendices, Homeland Security Mission Funding by Agency and Budget Account for FY 2014 and FY 2015, and similar appendices for previous years.  The counter tracks Homeland Security mission funding, which is homeland security related funding across multiple government agencies (not just the Department of Homeland Security). We report Homeland Security mission funding except for funding through the Department of Defense, which appears in the Department of Defense counter.

Housing Assistance

Budget authority subfunction 604 (Housing assistance). This includes programs such as rental assistance, public housing operations, homeless assistance grants, and others.

Medicaid and CHIP

Budget authority accounts “Grants to States for Medicaid” and “Children’s Health Insurance Fund.” This does not include the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation or the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

Nuclear Weapons

Budget authority subfunction 53 (Atomic energy defense activities), including maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, powering naval ship reactors, and coordinating nuclear response and nonproliferation activities.

Nutrition Assistance

Budget authority subfunction 605 (Food and nutrition assistance). This includes programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), child nutrition programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and others.

Predator and Reaper Drones

Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request, FY 2015 Predator and Reaper amounts. This reflects the research, production and modification costs of the drone programs, as well as fielding of Reaper aircraft and ground stations. It does not include related costs such as pilot training or mission costs.

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 2012 [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 2012 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 This site uses income tax numbers to approximate each locality's contribution to the designated programs, which are  funded by 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”.