ADF budget – Afghanistan

ADF budget – Afghanistan

Australian Defence Force (ADF) budget allocations for Afghanistan-related activities.
Australian defence budget 2001-2015

Australian defence budget 2001-2015

Calculating the cost of Australian Defence Forces (ADF) operations in Afghanistan is not straight forward. Defence portfolio budget papers and Department of Defence Annual Reports provide data on actual, estimated and planned expenditures on defence activities, including current operations. Defence department practice for discrete activities such as Operation Slipper is to provide data for “Net Additional Cost” for operations funding. These are the figures usually quoted as “costs” of operations.

However, this does not reflect the full costs to the department, for example, those operations’ share of the ADF’s overall operating and capital costs. Moreover, in some cases subsequent build-up in ADF capability is directly, though usually not wholly, related to follow-on effects of current operations. A case in point from the Afghanistan and Iraq operations was the decision to establish a Special Operations Command.

For clarification, links to documents quoting operations costs have been followed by information on what activities are included in those costs. On occasion budget documents provide important information about such activities not available elsewhere.

For the wider picture of defence spending in Australia see ADF budgets – General, Australian Forces Abroad.

Government sources

2008-09 Budget

Sustaining Defence Operations, Media Release, Joel Fitzgibbon, Minister for Defence, 13 May 2008

“The Rudd Labor Government has allocated $618.9 million in 2008-09 to support Australia’s commitment to operations in Afghanistan. The Australian Defence Force maintains a Reconstruction Task Force, which is working to improve infrastructure and services for the people of Oruzgan Province. During the next 12 months, this component of the Afghanistan commitment will transition into a Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force, with the inclusion of an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team.  This team will assist Afghan forces to carry out more security and reconstruction tasks in the Province. The Special Operations Task Group continues to enhance security in Oruzgan Province by targeting and disrupting Taliban extremists.  The recent deployment of two Chinook helicopters to southern Afghanistan directly supports the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission and the activities of Australian troops in Oruzgan Province. In addition, the Royal Australian Air Force continues to provide airspace control with a Mobile Control and Reporting Radar Unit at Kandahar airfield,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. By mid-2008, there will be approximately 1,100 Australian Defence Force members in Afghanistan. Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to operations in Afghanistan and our troops are doing a magnificent job there.  We remain committed to helping Afghanistan become a stable nation free of terrorism.”

AFP Numbers Boosted in Afghanistan, Budget 2008-09, Minister for Home Affairs, Media Release, 13 May 2008

Up to eight additional Australian Federal Police (AFP) members will be deployed in capacity development and counter-narcotics roles in Afghanistan.

“The extra members will join the four AFP members currently deployed in Afghanistan with the Australian Government providing funding of $47.0 million over two years to strengthen international efforts to stabilise the country. The AFP has been providing expertise in counter-narcotics and police capacity development in Afghanistan since October last year. The additional members will provide high level advice to the National Police of Afghanistan and act in advisory roles with the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan.”

2007-08 Budget

Sustaining Defence Operations, Media Release, Brendan Nelson, Minister for Defence, Australia, 8 May 2007.

“An additional $703 million is provided over four financial years, including $32 million for costs incurred in 2006-07, to expand Australia ‘s commitment to operations in Afghanistan. In addition to the Reconstruction Task Force (RTF) which is working with Dutch forces on reconstruction efforts in Oruzgan Province, a Special Operations Task Group of about 300 personnel is to deploy to the same province for at least two years. The Task Group will be supported by additional logistics and intelligence capabilities, and the redeployment of two Chinook helicopters to Afghanistan in 2008. An RAAF mobile control and reporting unit will also deploy to Kandahar airfield and an additional C-130J aircraft will deploy to the Middle East. The RTF Force Protection Company Group will be extended to provide close protection to the RTF until August 2008.”

Defence Portfolio Budget Papers, 2007-8, Chapter Two – Resourcing, Department of Defence, Australia

“Operation Slipper is the ADF’s contribution to the international coalition against terrorism. The Government has allocated an additional $703.0m (including $32.4m for 2006-07) over four financial years, including $480.3m in 2007-08 to fund Operation Slipper. The additional allocation is for the expansion of Operation Slipper until September 2008. Excluding the $32.4m which Defence will spend in 2006-07 but will be reimbursed in 2007-08, a total of $575.3m is to be spent on Operation Slipper in 2007-08.”

2007-08 Ops budget.jpg
Source: Defence Portfolio Budget Papers, 2007-8, Chapter Two – Resourcing, Department of Defence, Australia

2006-07 Budget

Budget Overview 2006-7, Enhancing international engagement, Commonwealth of Australia, 2006

“For Afghanistan, $14 million has been allocated to establish a diplomatic presence in Kabul and $218 million will fund an Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to a Netherlands?led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). A further $58 million will provide for the deployment of Chinook helicopters to support the Special Forces Task Group and the initial stages of the PRT.”

Defence Portfolio Budget Papers, 2006-7, Chapter Two – Resourcing, Department of Defence, Australia

Table 2.4: Revised Net Additional Cost of Current Operations
Afghanistan (Operation Slipper)

Budget 2005-06
Estimated Actual 2005-06




Budget Estimate 2006-07


Forward Estimate 2007-08


Forward Estimate 2008-09


“Operation Slipper is the ADF’s contribution to the international coalition against terrorism. In September 2005, a Special Forces Task Group of about 190 personnel was deployed for 12 months to support the reconstruction and stability of Afghanistan by providing combat patrols of remote regions, reconnaissance and surveillance operations with coalition partners. The Government has provided funds over three financial years including $18.4m in 2006-07 for the net additional cost of the deployment including personnel allowances, communications and logistics support.

“An aviation support element comprising two CH-47D helicopters and 140 personnel has also been deployed as part of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan, to provide additional aero-medical evacuation and air mobility support to the Special Forces Task Group and a Reconstruction Task Force until November 2006. Defence has been provided with funds over two financial years for the net additional cost of this deployment, including $14.6m in 2006-07.

“Additionally the Government has agreed to the deployment of a Reconstruction Task Force comprising approximately 240 ADF personnel as part of a Netherlands-led Provincial Reconstruction Team. The ADF contribution will be a mixed security and reconstruction task force to work on reconstruction and community based projects to assist Afghanistan to achieve a stable and secure future. The Government have since approved, as part of the 2006-07 Budget, additional supplementation for the deployment of a Reconstruction Task Force of $218.2m across three financial years, including $91.5m in 2006-07, bringing the total net additional cost of Operation Slipper in 2006-07 to $124.5m.”

Afghanistan — contributing to a Provincial Reconstruction Team, Defence Budget Paper No. 2, 2006-7, Department of Defence

“The Government will provide $218.2 million over three years (including $9.6 million in capital funding over three years) to deploy an Australian Defence Force reconstruction task force in support of a Netherlands-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in southern Afghanistan.”

“The Government will provide $57.6 million over two years (including $43.0 million in 2005-06) for a Chinook helicopter deployment to Afghanistan. The deployment, which commenced in March 2006, will provide additional aero-medical evacuation and air mobility support to both Australia’s Special Forces Task Group and to the initial stages of a Provincial Reconstruction Team contribution. The aviation support consists of two Chinook helicopters and around 110 associated personnel.”

Budget Overview – Major initiatives in the 2006-7 Budget, Commonwealth of Australia, 2006

Operation Slipper – provincial reconstruction team to Afghanistan










2002-3 Budget

Financial Overview, Defence Operations, Defence Annual Report 2002-3, Department of Defence

“Operation Slipper is the ADF contribution to the war on terror. Forces deployed included a Special Forces task group deployed to Afghanistan, a naval task group and Air Force P-3C Orion detachment supporting the Multinational Interception Force implementing United Nations Security Council resolutions in the Persian Gulf and a detachment of B707 air-to-air refuelling tankers and F/A 18 aircraft in support of coalition operations. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft provided air transport for deployed Australian forces.”

Table 1.14 Summary of operations funding (net additional cost)

Operation Slipper:

Actual result 2001-2 $320.0
Actual result 2002-3 $176.0

Defence Portfolio Budget Papers, 2002-3, Chapter One – Overview, Department of Defence

“The Government will provide additional funding of $523.8m (including $329.8m in 2001-02), to support Australia’s contribution to the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. The deployment involves around 1,100 Australian Defence Force personnel and includes: an Australian special forces task group and other personnel participating in Afghanistan; a naval task group supporting the Multinational Interception Force implementing UN security Council resolutions in the Persian Gulf and other activities in support of the war against terrorism.”



Cost of war may lead to budget gap, Tim Colebatch, Age, 2010-10-04

The federal budget is facing a funding gap of up to $10 billion over the next five years, with the Finance Department revealing that no money has been set aside for overseas troop commitments after this year. On reasonable assumptions, continuation of Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor and the Solomon Islands at current levels would cost $2 billion a year by 2012-13. In theory, that would wipe out half of the $3.8 billion surplus forecast for that year.

Million-Dollar Man, Jesse Ellison, Newsweek, 6 January 2010

The current cost to station 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan: just over $65 billion – or, to quote a figure politicians have extrapolated, just under $1 million a soldier. (Obama’s budget director has cited this ratio in estimating surge costs).

2009 Defence White Paper: Something for everyone?, Thomas-Durrell Young, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 21 September 2009

A thematic practice that the paper regrettably continues is the maddening dichotomy between the planning for the ‘defence of Australia’ (supported by the document’s unconvincing argument for Australia’s unique planning realities) and the cold fact that the ADF continues its distant and dangerous overseas deployments. Whilst the paper does recognise the ADF’s participation in operations in Afghanistan (which has, indeed, recently increased as part of the West’s ‘surge’ policy), such obvious force structure determinants would appear not to constitute a high priority, when compared to the almost ethereal imperatives of DoA.

Indeed, one might have thought that improving the ADF’s ability to operate effectively in a dangerous Afghanistan would have been a major priority for force requirements: alas not. In fact, Army is almost an after-thought, and once this deployment is over, will Army be relegated to its previous role, to quote Lieutenant General Peter Leahy, as a ‘strategic goal-keeper’?

Defence white paper walks a fine line, Andrew Davies and Rod Lyon, ABCNews, 11 May 2009

Other items, such as the Joint Strike Fighters the RAAF will receive, are already in Defence plans… In the debate that will follow, two questions are worth asking. Firstly, if the Australian Defence Force is going to be fighting close to home, why the emphasis on long-range submarines and larger surface ships – especially when they are both going to be fitted with long-range land attack missiles? And, secondly, how do we make sure that operations in far-flung places – we are in the eighth year of fighting in Afghanistan – are provided for adequately?

 Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional Research: Ronald Li
Updated: 20 January 2010