What would a strike against Syria cost?

Even in a very limited scenario, any US attack entails a tab of hundreds of millions of dollars -- and that's just the financial tally.

By Bruce Kennedy Aug 29, 2013 7:29AM

Guided Missile Destroyer USS MacDonough (© The Stocktrek )Putting aside the harrowing thought of once again placing American military men and wormen in harm's way, what would be the economic cost of a U.S. strike on Syria?

That will depend on the size, scope and duration of any such attack, part of an expected multinational response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people. But reports indicate it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars in the opening days alone.

Four U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers (pictured) have taken up positions in the eastern Mediterranean and are prepared to strike targets in Syria. Reuters speculates these ships would deliver the first blows of any attack. Each one can carry up to 96 Tomahawk cruise missiles, which a Navy official tells moneyNOW cost about $1.2 million each.

Multiple air strikes could also be launched from U.S. submarines and aircraft in the region.

As for the nature of any attack, "I think it would be more like Kosovo-lite, with a smaller target set and limited air involvement," Jeffrey White, defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, recently told the Christian Science Monitor. He was referring to the 1999 NATO air war in the former Yugoslavia, meant to protect an endangered population against a brutal government crackdown.

A limited military response could end with just one series of attacks. But what then, if more force is needed? One option would be to establish a "no-fly zone" over Syria, preventing the Bashar Assad government from using its air power against rebel forces.

But in a letter last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff, estimated it would cost $500 million to initially set up a no-fly zone, followed by expenses "averaging as much as a billion dollars per month over the course of a year."

Establishing a buffer zone to protect civilian populations in Syria could be even more expensive, according to the general, requiring a limited no-fly zone as well as U.S. ground forces. That would push the costs to over $1 billion per month. Other options, he said, are just as costly.

Clearly, none of this is cheap, even in a best-case scenario. In 2011, the Pentagon estimated the first few weeks of its operations in the multinational military intervention in Libya cost around $608 million. More than half of those costs went toward replacing weapons like the Raytheon (RTN) Tomahawk missiles and Boeing's (BA) Joint Direct Attack Munitions, the JDAM smart bombs, according to DefenseNews.com.

The 78-day air campaign in Kosovo, by contrast, cost the U.S. about $5 billion, although that amount also included peacekeeping and refugee assistance funds.

But up against those financial challenges are much larger issues, such as what might happen if nothing is done to stop the bloodshed in Syria and what might happen if the U.S. and its allies do strike Syria.

More on moneyNOW

Aug 29, 2013 11:09AM
We can no longer be the earths' police force! Let the people in the territory work out their own problems! NO MORE UNITED STATES SERVICE MANS BLOOD OR TAX MONEY until EVERY other UNITED NATIONS country gets in FIRST with a 100% commitment!!!
Aug 29, 2013 9:40AM
That all depends upon the other world powers.   The Russians are ALLIES of Syria.  They now have a fleet off shore.  They could OPEN FIRE the moment we attack Syria, after all you would expect allies (reliable ones, not like the USA) to do EXACTLY that.    What would our reaction be if lost a aircraft carrier and the entire 5,000 man crew?

We are playing a very dangerous game.   My question is why?  What is our strategic interest in this.  What will the bombing accomplish?  We need to step back and re-examine our policy.   I do not trust Obama to make the right call...
Aug 29, 2013 11:17AM
Why do we want to spend  tens of billions of dollars that we do not have to protect one group that hates us from another group that hates us. There are thousands of people on each side that would behead all of us if they got the chance.
Aug 29, 2013 11:26AM
We need to take care of our own and quit sticking our nose in other peoples business.
Aug 29, 2013 10:11AM
The wrong thing to do is to  place a $$$$ price tag on this.  WAR is measured in many ways,some measure in dollars , but the true cost is in BLOOD AND POLITICAL GAIN.
ASSAD is a dictator, but that may be the only way to rule over the citizens of that country. AS We have seen in past conflicts in that region,you need a scorecard to keep track of the players. 
Should the GOOD GUYS win the day it will be short lived,The Muslim brotherhood WILL INFILTRATE and turn victory into OPPRESSION of a different type.
They already hate us, WHY HELP ? 
Aug 29, 2013 11:26AM
Attacking Syria serves no beneficial purpose for the US. Over 100,000? Syrians have died in the past 2-2 1/2 years that this has went on. Now, I guess it makes a difference how they die. No one has more WMD than we do. Let's face the facts. We are the only country to use nuclear weapons in war. Syria is none of our business. To attack it and not destroy it's chemical capability serves no functional purpose. If they and Iran attack Israel, what then? Korea and Vietnam should have taught us about getting involved in another country's civil wars. 
Aug 29, 2013 8:29AM
You don't walk up to somebody in a bar, punch them in the shoulder, and say that was a warning.  You hit them as hard as possible because you just started a fight and you better be in it to win it.  Same deal with war.  You fight a war to win a war, not to save face with some political gesture strike.  Just like in a bar fight, you will wake up next to the dumpsters.
Aug 29, 2013 11:37AM
800,000 Rwandans were massacred over a three month period in 1994 and the world watched.  Dying by machete is just as horrible as dying by gas.  If we weren't willing to step into the void in Rwanda why go to a region where we've already seen we can't make a difference.
Aug 29, 2013 11:56AM
Dear lord, isn't there ANYTHING else we can do to help the Syrian citizens without using bombs????!!!????   We cannot afford this - financially and human-life-wise.   The US has rampant unemployment, the dwindling of helpful puiblic programs and the cost of everything -- EVERYTHING is going up.   Nineteen firefighters died in Yarnell, Arizona fighting a horrific wildfire, and their families and the town won't get ana dime of assistance to rebuild; yet we somehow will scrouge up billions of dollars for strikes on Syria, for what????????!!    Hate this decision, hate it, hate it.....
Aug 29, 2013 11:29AM
I am tired of us going to War with countries and getting involved with their problems.  We can't solve everything we are no longer a country other countries look up to.   When we went to War, which they were actually called Wars -World War I  - World War II - Vietnam War- We actually were strong and we did the first two correctly and bombed the crap out of them.  When we do this hit and miss thing where we are trying to send a message its like giving them a black eye and starting the fight that never ends.  We always say we have proof somebody has something thats deadly chemicals, or whatever.  Then in some congressional meeting years down the road if we even exist after this proposed War they will end up saying there was no proof, but we went there anyway.  Quit wasting Americans lifes we are tired of supporting a system who pads their own pockets and pays themselves quite well and they make sure they have the best insurance for their health etc.  Ridiculous I can't believe that there hasn't been a protest in every city over this.  I guess in the 60's when they did that even though a lot of them were on drugs there a stronger force to deal with..  American people we have become weak and we just continue thru our daily lifes ignoring what is going on all around us.  
Aug 29, 2013 11:48AM
Let them all kill each other. They all hate us anyway. Take the same position China does and just buy the oil.
Aug 29, 2013 11:56AM
It's a CIVIL WAR! we have no business getting involved.
Aug 29, 2013 11:11AM

There will be a scene whether or not we become involved. Let's face that music

before we commit assets, manpower and our national integrity again.  


The Afghanistan-Iraq Conflict was not the root cause of the Housing Crises, the

Great Unemployment Situation of 2008-2013, or the stock market's plunge, but

it certainly drained any funds which could have eased those downturns, and we

have not recovered yet.  Perhaps we learned nothing as well?


Now Syria is at bat to antagonize the world. Syrians, much like Palestine and Israel,

and with Egypt on second, refuses to resolve internal disputes without outside

interventions. Syria's distemper must be recognized as setting the spark that fuels

the situation and triggers use of biological weapons ((should that be the U.N.

findings conclusions). This time though the globe might become involved over

the issue because biological warfare is ugly, inhumane and intolerable.  In the

balance hangs some Middle-Eastern nations, as well as Eastern, Western and

Pacific cultures -- many, many, many nations.


The Syrian Conflict continues because the regime and the rebellion won't

compromise; each side is willing to fight to the death for victory.  That's their

stand. But when outside regions become involved (i.e., US, China, Russia,

Japan, Australia, Europe......) it's not just discontented Syrians who die;

it's not just discontented Syrians who pay the cost. 


I for one have not budgeted for America to become involved again in another

conflict which might lead to WWIII.  I prefer that Syria resolve it's own problems

independently and completely.  To give up lifestyles found in Paris, London,

Beijing, Tokyo, Hong, Kong, New York, Prague, Bruges, Montreal, Koln,

Malaga, Portofino, Melbourne etc. because we agree biological warfare is

inhumane isn't a price I'm willing to pay.  Demand Syria negotiate with it's

interests or perish -- cuts everyone's losses that way.  At a cost of a billion

dollars daily (estimated) for America's share alone, the ransom is too

luxurious. Let's not get coerced into another unwanted war because one

nation refuses to compromise, to cope. Coping is often a bitter, bitter pill

to swallow.  I cope daily. Most everyone I know copes daily. So why shouldn't

Syria's occupants cope like the rest of the globe?


The answer is not armed intervention.  The answer requires Syria align

its philosophies in the interests of survival or perish.  The are other people

on the planet dissenting; in fact the list seems endless.  Let's not get coerced

into other nation's conflicts. They have right to their goals and they should

finance their management or declare bankruptcy as other nations have done.


Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair. Said Simple Simon to the

pieman "Let me taste your wares... ". 

Aug 29, 2013 10:24AM
OPEC even offered a deal on oil for Russia if they backed off Syrian support.  Yet Putin still backs these crazies.  WTF!
Aug 29, 2013 11:19AM

Bozo-- please go play golf and ignore this situation like you ignored Benghazi.

Thank you.

Aug 29, 2013 11:57AM
It's best to stay out of a military action of any sort with Syria. I realize it's about retaining security in the region with Israel. However, leave it to Israel. Let them deal with it. This one will only destabilize the area. I don't like the idea of supplying aide to Muslim freedom fighters either only to be used against us. We don't need to be the world's police force. Sure it's disheartening to see women and children murdered. Muslims are killing Muslims. If we get involved the blame will get shifted on us. STAY OUT OF SYRIA!
Aug 29, 2013 11:57AM

We (USA) need to stop being big brother to this totally screwed up world.

We have enough problemsn of our own to solve, yet we concern ourselves about some pee hole country.

Keeping the shipping lanes open is important.

Let the middle East figure it out for themselves.

They have been killing each other for a couple of millenia, let them be

Aug 29, 2013 10:33AM

The far right just loves war as long as they don`t have to fight in it.We can`t afford education,

can`t afford healthcare,can`t afford to repair roads and bridges, but we can always afford war.

Isn`t that great?

Aug 29, 2013 11:50AM
Obama has never made a right call about anything
Aug 29, 2013 11:18AM
Create more uncertainty and Oil prices shoot up!  Good thing if you export oil.  Russians are moving ships as a bluff.  They won't fire on us, its only to flex their muscles.  They struck the deal down so they are betting they will get more from creating a manufactured oil crisis.

"Saudi Arabia could help boost oil prices by restricting its own supply. This would be a shot in the arm for Russia, which is near recession and relies on an oil price near $100 to fund the budget."  From another article.  It even said the Saudi's could give terror immunity in the Olympics if they took the deal.  WTF, the Saudi's can buy off terrorists? What is wrong with this picture!!!!!
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