Metro-East News

Roger That: Price tag for fighting ISIS stands at $3.2 billion

The United States has spent more than $3 billion on the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Pentagon said in an update Monday, according to The Hill newspaper.

The U.S. has spent $3.21 billion as of July 15, spokesman Bill Urban said. Since the campaign against ISIS began on Aug. 6, the military operations have cost an average of $9.4 million per day.

About 53 percent, has been spent on airstrikes, according to the Defense Department. Just under a quarter of the money has been spent on weapons, with the rest spent on missions involving military carriers and other operations.The average daily cost of the ISIS campaign has risen since September, ticking up to $9.9 million a day after costing around $5.6 million per day in the first few weeks.

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Veterans who suffered sexual assault or other sexual abuse while in uniform would get help more easily from the Department of Veterans Affairs under a bill approved Monday by the House, according to the Associated Press, as reported by Military Times.

The bill would allow a statement by a survivor of military sexual trauma to be considered sufficient proof that an assault occurred. The House approved the bill by voice vote Monday night.

The bill is named after Ruth Moore, a former Navy sailor who was raped twice by a superior officer nearly three decades ago. Moore, of Milbridge, Maine, was awarded more than $400,000 in retroactive disability benefits last year after a decades-long battle with the VA.

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The U.S. military’s special forces community is a difficult topic to report on because of the layers of secrecy that surround it. That’s especially true for its most secretive combat units, including Navy SEAL Team 6, the elite counter-terrorism unit that in May 2011 raided Osama bin Ladin’s compound in Pakistan and took him out.

But a new Government Accountability Office report on special operations forces shows that as of fiscal year 2014, Navy SEAL Team 6, officially known as the Naval Warfare Special Development Group, had a total of 1,787 authorized positions, of which 1,342 are military and 445 are civilian, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

A former senior Team 6 official reacted with surprise when told that the GAO had published the numbers. “I don’t know why they would do that,” he said, adding that he did not recall any previous instance in which the government published such detailed numbers, according to Foreign Policy.

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Monday marked National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, a day to honor the Americans who fought to keep communism from spreading across Asia, according to DoDLive, the Department of Defense blog.

Korea is often called “The Forgotten War,” but it was also extremely costly. During three years of warfare, from June 1950 to the ceasefire that took effect on July 27, 1953, America suffered 36,574 troop deaths and 103,284 wounded. Another 7,800 troops remain unnaccounted for, according to the website.

South Korea losses were much worse: 217,000 troops killed, plus 1 million civilians. North Korea suffered 406,000 troop deaths and 600,000 civilian deaths. China lost an estimated 600,000 troops, according to CNN.com

On June 25, 1950, the North Korean People’s Army crossed the 38th parallel, invading South Korea. By the end of summer, the U.S. and its allies had made tremendous progress in pushing the invaders back to the 38th parallel. China threatened to take action if U.N. forces tried to push further north. U.N. forces, led by U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, ignored the threat and pressed north anyway, nearly reaching China’s border.

In late October 1950, China sent a huge army across the border, one much larger than the U.S. and U.N. expected, repelling them back behind the 38th parallel. Both sides spent months fighting over that line before a stalemate was called in July 1951.

The ceasefire agreement wasn’t a peace treaty. In fact, one was never signed. It was supposed to be on the agenda at the Geneva Conference of 1954, but that never happened.

Roger That is a regular feature by Belleville News-Democrat military beat reporter Mike Fitzgerald. Contact him at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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