The Nearly $1 Million-a-Year Soldier

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The Pentagon’s top bean-counter was ready when a senator asked him a simple question Tuesday: how much does it cost to keep a single American soldier in Afghanistan for a year? “Right now,” Robert Hale, the Pentagon comptroller responded, “about $850,000 per soldier.”

That’s akin to the $400-per-gallon cost of fuel, and $30-per-gallon cost of water, that accounting types like to cite as the true, loaded cost of those items in Afghanistan. That, of course, includes the cost of shipping them to the end user and, in the case of the soldier, defending, housing and feeding him or her while in Afghanistan. Bet the sergeant bringing home $30,000 a year in basic pay would like some of that 850 grand. Over at CNN’s Security Watch blog, Larry Shaughnessy discovers Hale’s number might even be a little low.