AUDIO – The costs of war

December 15, 2008

Wars have numerous costs and most of those are unimaginable for most of us not in the middle of one.

But, aside from the tragic cost of death or injury, wars also cost a lot of money to finance and President-elect Barack Obama will be facing some of those costs (as well as a whole mess of other stuff) when he takes office in January.

As the United States grapples with a severely struggling economy, a number of federal bailouts and questions about our overall financial shape, Obama will also have to decide rather quickly how he will prosecute the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the staffing of the military.

On Monday, Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute and Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group spoke at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit about the kinds of challenges Obama will face and just how much this is all going to cost.

Thompson (who you hear speaking first in the audio clip) and Aboulafia have been at our summits before and are always highly engaging and well-informed guests. But this year, maybe more than we’ve ever seen, the two warned that the problems facing the country and the defense sector were as serious as they have seen.

Staffing the military is an expensive proposition and it’s getting more so, the two concurred. And a government with a lot on its plate might be forced to take a second look at staffing committments. They think Obama will.

The Aero and Defense Summit is the final one of the year. In 2008, Reuters has had 33 summits around the globe and have as many or more planned for 2009. Our previous gathering, Reuters Investment Outlook Summit, provided clients with an excellent look at how to manage through what will certainly be a challenging 2009.

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