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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

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.