WASHINGTON — The Navy's escort operations in the Persian Gulf are costing taxpayers between $15 million and $20 million a month in extra, unbudgeted expenses, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
The estimate--the first official cost figure released by the Administration since the Navy began escorting Kuwaiti tankers in July----was outlined in a letter to congressional leaders by Deputy Defense Secretary William H. Taft IV. He wrote that the expenses "will approach $70 million" by the end of this month.
The outlay has led to deferral of scheduled maintenance on Navy ships and land facilities, according to Taft. However, Robert B. Sims, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, continued to insist Tuesday that "in the larger scope of things, these are not huge costs."