The military presence in the Middle East and the Red Sea since the Gaza conflict broke out could cost the US more than $2.1 billion, but Washington does not have the budget to pay for it.
The US military has spent about 1.6 billion USD to dispatch more warships, fighters, and military equipment to the Middle East in the past 4 months since the Gaza war broke out, two unnamed US officials said on May 24. One said, citing a Pentagon report.
This number does not include the value of the missiles that US warships and fighters used to shoot down attacks by Houthi forces in Yemen and attack armed groups. Some analysts believe that the US military spent up to 573 million USD in nearly a month conducting Operation Protective Prosperity to patrol the Red Sea and respond to the Houthis.
This brings the cost the US spent to increase its military presence in the Middle East in the past 4 months to more than 2.1 billion USD. This amount may continue to increase because the Pentagon estimates the cost of military operations in the Red Sea could reach $2.2 billion after a year.
According to two US officials, Washington currently does not have money to pay for military operations in the Red Sea due to a lack of additional budget from Congress. “This bill is coming due, and we will have to find a way to pay it with our current limited resources,” an official said.
The US Senate in early December last year rejected the 2024 national security budget bill, which included $61 billion in aid to Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel due to opposition from Republican members. These people demand that measures to tighten border security with Mexico be added to the bill before accepting its passage.
The White House last week signaled it was willing to make concessions on immigration to unlock aid to Ukraine and Israel. However, the prospects of passing this bill continue to become dim after Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced some tougher conditions.
After the war between Israel and Hamas broke out in early October last year, the US sent an additional aircraft carrier battle group along with many amphibious ships, fighters, air defense systems and hundreds of soldiers to the Middle East region to deter and prevent pro-Hamas forces in the region from participating in the conflict.
US forces were later deployed to protect cargo ships in the Red Sea from Houthi missile and drone attacks. The armed group announced that it would continue to raid to show solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli army is conducting a campaign against Hamas, Houthi’s ally in the “axis of resistance” against Tel Aviv in the Middle East.
Since January 11, the US and UK have conducted many attacks on the group’s military targets in Yemen to prevent this force from continuing to target the Red Sea. However, the armed group has continued to launch missiles into the sea in recent days, most recently on January 25, causing a US military cargo ship to turn around.