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The Afghan War, By The Numbers

What 20 years of fighting in Afghanistan cost — in dollars and in lives.

Posted on August 17, 2021, at 8:18 p.m. ET

Nicolas Asfouri / AFP via Getty Images

A US soldier looks on as a C-117 plane drops food, water, and other supplies onto a landing zone at an undisclosed location in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan, some 200 kilometers southwest of Kabul, on May 29, 2007.

Total spent by US

$2.26 trillion. Officially, the Department of Defense, the State Department, USAID, and other government agencies have spent roughly $887 billion on the war in Afghanistan and reconstruction. But Brown University’s Costs of War project estimates that the full cost was $2.26 trillion, including veterans’ medical and disability costs, interest on borrowing, and other factors.

For comparison, it would take $1.7 trillion to pay off all outstanding US student loans.

Universal, high-quality early care and education for all US children for 10 years would cost $1.4 trillion.

The cost of the war was almost twice that of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill the Senate passed last week, which has been described as “easily the biggest infrastructure package in decades.”

The cost of the war is roughly 12 times Jeff Bezos’s net worth, which is approximately $190 billion.

US Troops

More than 775,000 US service members were deployed to Afghanistan at least once between 2001 and 2019, according to data provided by the Pentagon to the Washington Post.

That’s about the entire population of Seattle, where 737,015 people live, according to the 2020 Census. It’s also more people than live in Denver, Boston, or Washington, DC — or the entire states of Alaska, Vermont, or Wyoming.

20,666: US military members wounded in action in Afghanistan. (Source: Department of Defense.)

2,312: US military deaths in Afghanistan. (Source: Department of Defense.)

Total Deaths

240,000: Approximate total deaths as a direct result of war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Source: Costs of War Project.)

That’s roughly 80 times the death toll of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

47,245: estimated Afghan civilians killed. (Source: Costs of War Project.)

24,099: estimated Pakistani civilians killed. (Source: Costs of War Project.)

458: Humanitarian aid workers killed in Afghanistan since the US invasion. (Source: Aid Worker Security Database.)

74: Journalists and media workers killed in Afghanistan since the US invasion. (Source: The Committee to Protect Journalists.)

Refugees

More than 3.5 million: People now internally displaced in Afghanistan. (Source: UN.)

More than 2.5 million: Afghan refugees at the end of 2020. (Source: UN.)

Rahmat Gul / AP

A US Chinook helicopter flies over the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2021.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.