Afghanistan campaign 'set to cost £4bn'

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British military operations in Afghanistan are set to cost the taxpayer more than £4 billion this year, it was disclosed today.

The Ministry of Defence estimates the additional cost for 2011-12 at £4.025 billion, to be met from the Treasury reserve.

The figures - released by the Commons Defence Committee - represent a fall on the previous year's estimate of £4.4 billion.

However the committee expressed concern that the true cost this year could again be closer to £4.4 billion, after the MoD warned that the estimate represented 90% of forecast costs.

The MoD said that the 90% figure had been included on the advice of the Treasury in order to reflect the "significant volatility" of the costs involved.

The committee said the figures covered only the additional cost of operations and did not reflect the true cost of Britain's military commitment in Afghanistan.

"While it is true that personnel would be paid, and equipment procured and used (largely for training purposes), even if the armed forces were not engaged in operations, their deployment brings with it additional costs in terms of training opportunities cancelled or deferred and equipment wear and tear that will eventually have to be met," the committee said.

"We recommend that the department make an estimate of the full cost of military operations."