London, Nov.26 : The British Ministry of Defence has revealed that the cost of the offensives in Iraq and Afghanistan has crossed 13 billion pounds in six years so far, and there is a need for more than 2.3 billion pounds to pay for the campaign in southern Helmand province this year.
According to The Times, most of the funds have come from Treasury contingency reserves, although the ministry has had to bear some of the financial burden from its own budget to share the costs of new armoured vehicles sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.
If troop cuts go ahead in Iraq as planned, the cost of Operation Telic - codename for the military campaign - should come down markedly next year.
The reduced military presence, which could even be cut to zero by the end of 2009, would be concerned solely with training the Iraqi Army's 14th Division based in Basra.
This would make it possible to transfer much-needed helicopters and other equipment to Afghanistan.
The cost of Operation Herrick, the campaign in Helmand, however, looks set to rise and rise. The bill in 2005-06 was 199 million pounds. This increased to 738 million pounds the following year, when British troop numbers were boosted to 7,500, and the cost last year was 1.5 billion pounds. This was largely due to the multiple orders from the defence ministry for hundreds of extra armoured vehicles to meet "urgent operational requirements".
Force protection has become the key issue after the deaths of about 36 British service personnel, killed by roadside bombs and landmines while travelling in the lightly armoured Snatch Land Rovers, sent to Iraq and Afghanistan from Northern Ireland.
Extra measures have also had to be taken to improve the survivability of helicopters in the harsh environment of Iraq and Afghanistan, and to fit better communications to all aircraft.