WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - Pentagon spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to fight terrorism elsewhere has reached $685.7 billion since 2001, a U.S. government watchdog agency said on Monday.
The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, said the Iraq war accounted for $533.5 billion in Defense Department spending obligations through last December, while spending on operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and the Philippines totaled $124.1 billion.
The remaining $28.1 billion was for operations to defend the U.S. mainland, the GAO said in a letter to Congress dated March 30.
The spending total equals about 85 percent of the $808 billion that Congress has appropriated for military operations in the global war on terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the GAO said.
The $122.3 billion difference reflects multiyear contracts for procurement, military construction, research, development and other programs, the watchdog agency said.
GAO figures show the rise in Pentagon obligations slowing from 40 percent hikes between 2005 and 2007 to a 33 percent increase in 2008. Obligations for 2008 totaled $162.4 billion.
Congress has appropriated $65.9 billion for 2009 so far and the Obama administration is seeking another $75.5 billion, suggesting $141.4 billion in total appropriations for the year, down from 2008.
Pentagon spending in the first three months of fiscal year 2009 — from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2008 — equaled about $31 billion, of which $25 billion went to the war in Iraq and nearly $6 billion to operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and the Philippines.
The Army accounted for $21.5 billion of war on terrorism obligations during the same period, followed by the Air Force at $3.7 billion. (Reporting by David Morgan, editing by Patricia Zengerle)