WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will not put a price tag on how much a punitive U.S. strike against Syria might cost, but says it will come up with the money.
“I wouldn’t be able to offer details on costs at this time,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said at a Thursday briefing. “We don’t know precisely what the military operation would look like, so I can’t give a precise cost estimate.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Sept. 4 that the cost of a military strike against Syria would depend on the type of operation chosen by President Obama.
“We have given some ranges of this,” Hagel said. “It would be in the tens of millions of dollars, that kind of range.”
The United States and its allies say the Syrian government recently used chemical weapons that responsible for killing about 1,500 civilians. Obama wants to launch a punitive strike against Syria, however he is seeking congressional approval beforehand.
Experts say a strike against Syria would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The first few weeks of the 2011 NATO operation in Libya cost around $600 million. More than half of that cost was to replace Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The Pentagon had its 2013 budget cut by $37 billion and it is facing more cuts in 2014 due to sequestration spending caps. Top DoD leaders have argued that Congress should remove defense spending caps and instead pass a comprehensive deficit reduction package.
“When it comes to sequestration and budget uncertainty, when this country decides to come together and take military action for a just cause that’s rooted in the legitimacy of a very strong international norm, then we’ll find a way to fund it,” Little said.