Defense and the National Interest

Charts and Data

Iraq, Afghanistan, the Taliban, and al-Qa'ida

10/09/07 Coalition fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan, through September 2007.  With six-month moving average.[14 KB PDF]

8/06/07 Coalition force levels in Iraq, or "What surge?" by Dr. Hermann Mindshaftgap (a DC-based defense analyst).  The surge of American troops did not even compensate for the drawdown of other coalition forces. [Second edition - 16 KB PDF]

5/08/06 Costs of US Wars.  According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the "global war on terror" (GWOT, including Afghanistan) plus operations in Iraq will exceed the cost of any war in US history with the sole exception of WWII.  (19KB PDF) 

1/16/06 The Economic Costs of the Iraq War: An Appraisal Three Years After the Beginning of the Conflict, by Linda Bilmes, Harvard U., and Joseph E. Stiglitz, Columbia U (309 KB PDF on the Columbia U. site)

Central Asian Pipelines - why western Afghanistan is the most practical route from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

Flight paths of the four airliners hijacked on September 11, 2001.

Simple facts about Afghanistan:  Land area - 647,500 sq. km (250,000 sq. mi.) or about 95% the size of Texas.  Highest point - Nowshak 7,485 m (24,577 ft.) or about 4,250 ft. higher than Mt. McKinley.

Afghanistan, showing ethnic mix by major language group.  The Taliban are primarily Pashtun

Afghanistan, areas under Taliban control as of September 11, 2001

Major Ethnic Groups in Pakistan, showing the spill-over of these groups into Iran, India, and Afghanistan

"Pashtunistan," majority Pashtu-speaking areas in and near Afghanistan

Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) Afghanistan Page. Although Afghanistan is a country the size of Texas with mountains higher than the Alps, it also has several sizable cities - Kabul, Qandahar, and Herat.  Peshawar, just over the border in Pakistan is home to well over 2 million, many of them pro-Taliban and al-Qa'ida.

The Greater Threat: Missile or Terrorist Bomb?

It wasn't so long ago that the missile defense crowd was proclaiming that no truck bomb ever killed US soldiers in a war. Even before the invasion of Iraq, though, it wasn't true, and here is the data.  Between 1983 and 2000, for every US service member killed by an enemy ballistic missile, more than 16 had been killed by terrorist bombs.

Defense Death Spiral

Chuck Spinney's 70 chart briefing on why equipment is aging and readiness suffers, even though we're outspending the rest of the world.  Provides data to illustrate the three interlocking arms of the spiral:  A modernization program that even if executed perfectly (i.e., no overruns or stretch outs) cannot modernize our forces, a declining readiness posture that is costing increasingly more money, and an unauditable set of Pentagon books that cannot provide the data needed to fix the first two problems.

Weapon System Costs

"Program Costs to Date for Selected Weapons Systems" compiled by Christopher Hellman at the Center for Defense Information.

The Fifteen Power, now the Twenty Power, Standard

The Twenty Power Standard. The FY2003 DoD Budget Request exceeds the combined defense budgets of the next twenty-five largest spenders.  The comparable figure for the FY2002 budget [including the July Amendment] was 15.  [Editor's note:  corrected from "The Twenty-Five Power Standard" 3/5/02]

Spending by the US and likely allies exceeds all possible "threats" by roughly a factor of 6.

The "Four Percent Solution"

Recently, several commentators have called for increasing US defense spending to an arbitrary percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).  The charts in this section show the implications relative both to historical US defense budgets and to what the rest of the world spends.  For further information, please refer to Comment 381.


Spending Trends

Rising Cost of Low Readiness

Fourth Generation Warfare

  • A Case Study in Fourth Generation Warfare: Data from the Al Aqsa Intifada Updated September 30, 2003.

  • Jewish Settlements in Palestine, 1914.  Readers may be surprised at how extensive the Jewish settlements were in Palestine, even 35 years before statehood, and how most of them were in the present State of Israel and not in the West Bank.

  • Jewish Settlements in the West Bank, May 2002.  A highly detailed map from the Israeli human rights group B'tselem.  The blue and black areas are settlements and the dark red are Palestinian built-up areas. Note how settlements and Palestinian areas are so intermixed as to make segregation practically impossible. Note also how the Palestinians are isolated from the Jordan River. (1.6 MB PDF file)

  • 10/1/03 Map of the Israeli security fence.  From the Israeli human rights organization B'tselem, with their report (456 KB PDF file.)


CERTAIN TO WIN: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business, by Chet Richards. Boyd's real OODA loop and ancient strategies working for business today. More...
Advance Reviews;
Amazon and B&N


RAISING THE BAR, by Donald Vandergriff (U.S. Army, ret.) Published by the Center for Defense Information Press. Read the DNI review. Order from Amazon.


SCIENCE, STRATEGY AND WAR, by Col Frans Osinga, RNAF. Read the DNI Review.  Order from Amazon or B&N. New! Now in paperback directly from Routledge, $35.95.


NEITHER SHALL THE SWORD, by Chet Richards.  If you thought A Swift, Elusive Sword was too tame.  Read the Introduction and view the Briefing. Podcast review.  Available now on Amazon


BOYD: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram
Amazon & B&N.


BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION : A Future Worth Creating, by Thomas P. M. Barnett. Read the DNI review. Buy at Amazon and B&N


NOT A GOOD DAY TO DIE: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, by Sean Naylor. Read the DNI Review; Amazon and B&N


THE WASTRELS OF DEFENSE: How Congress Sabotages U. S. Security by Winslow Wheeler.  You'll be disgusted, then just mad.
Read Comment #527.
Amazon and B&N


THE AFGHAN CAMPAIGN, by Steven Pressfield.  Read the DNI Review. Amazon and B&N.


The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield
Read the DNI Review.
Amazon and B&N. Now in trade paperback.


The Sling and The Stone by Col T. X. Hammes, USMC
Amazon and B&N


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