The United States has been at war since the end of 2001. In October of that year it began sending forces into Afghanistan. In March 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. Today, US forces remain heavily engaged in both countries. In the Fall of 2008, there were some 200,000 US troops in the region, of which about 150,000 were in Iraq and about 35,000 in Afghanistan. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US military has also been engaged in homeland security related operations.
To date, some 4,800 US Service members have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about 33,000 wounded. These military operations have also incurred substantial financial costs, including both direct budgetary costs and associated interest payments on the federal debt. These costs have grown dramatically over the past few years.
In addition, some observers argue that as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the United States has incurred significant economic and social costs that go beyond, and may even exceed, the wars’ budgetary costs. Along with the concerns over strategy and the size and duration of the US deployments in these operations (especially in Iraq), the Bush Administration has also been criticized because of the way in which it has budgeted for and financed these wars.