US soldier in Afghanistan walks past Afghan child.
A decision by US President Barack Obama to extend the presence of American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 is likely to increase the remaining cost of the unpopular war to USD 413 billion.
The US president, who was expected to announce an exit strategy from Afghanistan at the recent NATO summit in Lisbon, pushed for an indefinite postponement of troop withdrawal instead.
Obama declared in a nationally televised address in December that the transfer of the US forces out of Afghanistan would begin in July 2011. He, however, later redefined the previous timeline stating that Afghan forces would only begin taking the lead for security across Afghanistan by 2014.
On Saturday, NATO Secretary General said the US-led military alliance will remain in Afghanistan for as long as it takes to finish off its enemies there.
The newly defined deadline comes with a heavy price tag at a time when the US and many of its allies are facing increasing deficit cuts at home.
“I don't think anyone is seriously talking about cutting war funding as a way of handling the deficit,” said Todd Harrison, a Defense funding expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Calculating costs based on USD 1.1 million per soldier per year, Harrison assesses that the new description of the deadline will cost the American taxpayers an additional USD 125 billion through 2014 alone.
The remaining war cost had been estimated to be USD 288 billion assuming that the troops involved in Obama's surge would be withdrawn by 2012.