WASHINGTON – The United States has spent more than $715 million for military and humanitarian operations in Libya since unrest began in the north African country earlier this year, the White House said Wednesday.
The figures came in a report that the White House sent to Congress insisting that President Barack Obama did not exceed his powers in ordering US military action in Libya.
"The cost through June 3, 2011, for DoD (Department of Defense) military operations and humanitarian assistance efforts in Libya is $715.9 million," it said.
The report said $713.6 million was for military operations, $1.3 million for a drawdown of US Defense Department supplies and $1 million in humanitarian aid.
"The total projected cost for DoD operations through September 30, 2011, which is the end of the second 90-day authorization by NATO, is about $1.1 billion," the report said.
By comparison the cost of sustaining the decade-long conflict in Afghanistan is about $10 billion a month.
Officials said that the 30-page report justifies US action in the mission to protect civilians and target the forces of Moamer Kadhafi and contains a detailed legal analysis showing Washington's role is permitted under US law.
It came amid rising criticism among even some of Obama's allies over the operation and Obama's authority to wage it, along with questions about the ultimate US goal in Libya and the mounting cost of the action.
But senior Obama aides said the US role in the NATO-led operation, now largely confided to a support mission, did not rise to the level of warfare that under the 1973 War Powers Resolution must be endorsed by lawmakers.