Cost of Fielding A Single Troop Has Nearly Tripled Since 1980

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Despite decades of efficiency efforts designed to wring every flabby dollar from Pentagon spending, the cost of fielding one active-duty airman, sailor, soldier or Marine continues to climb.

The $57,000 it cost to field a troop in 1980 ballooned to $217,000 in 2010 — not including inflation. Sure, as the Congressional Budget Office notes in a new report, some of that increase was because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the cost growth has been dramatic even once the wars’ costs are removed from the accounting:

At $158,000 in 2013, the O&M cost per active-duty service member is $29,000 (or 22 percent) above what the historical trend would indicate, which implies that such spending has grown by an average of more than $4,000 per year since 2001, or about 85 percent greater than the historical rate…In addition, as it has in the past decade, increased reliance on contractors to perform functions previously performed by military personnel could further increase O&M costs per active-duty service member.