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A military camp in Afghanistan. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria following the September 11 attacks have cost American taxpayers more than $1.5 trillion, CNBC reports, citing a Defense Department report.

Key figure: The war in Afghanistan, America's longest war, cost the most at $134.3 billion. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who arrived in Kabul last Friday, is seeking to restart long-moribund peace talks with the Taliban.

By the numbers: The three current military actions — Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan, Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq, and Operation Noble Eagle for homeland security missions in the U.S. and Canada — have cost the country more than $185 billion of the total amount.

  • Noble Eagle's military operation has accounted for $27.7 billion, and Inherent Resolve has cost $23.5 billion.
  • The money is used to cover expenses such as troops’ salary, training and military equipment.

State of play: According to the AP, there are almost 15,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan supporting combat against the Taliban. Roughly 2,000 are in Syria, working with the Syrian Defense Forces or providing support to local militias battling ISIS, per USA Today.

  • The AP also reports that there are approximately 5,200 troops in Iraq.
  • Meanwhile, Al Qaeda is gaining ground in the Middle East and North Africa, the Los Angeles Times reports, a move that would force the U.S. and other allies to stay longer and bolster their military operations there.

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

America's hidden depression

Biden introduces his pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, on Dec. 1. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think.

Why it matters: There is a recovery happening. But it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris administration's chance of success.