The Iraq war is currently costing American taxpayers $8.4 billion a month. Expect that number to rise when President Bush’s escalation fully kicks into effect.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, deploying 20,000 combat forces for four months will cost $5 billion. Keeping the troops there for a year pushes the price tag to $11 billion.

The CBO report, however, suggests that the number of troops needed for the mission–and the cost of deploying them–is even larger than what the Bush Administration is letting on.

In the past few years, a normal combat brigade deployed to Iraq has consisted of 4,000 combat troops and 5,500 support personnel to assist them. The Bush Administration’s plan calls for an increase of 21,500 combat troops–but makes no mention of the support personnel needed.

If the Department of Defense follows standard protocol for the escalation, 28,000 support troops will need to reinforce the 21,500 combat troops. Even a smaller footprint could require 15,000 support troops. The real size of the escalation, then, more closely resembles 35,000 to 48,000 American soldiers, at a cost of $9 to $13 billion for four months and $20 to $27 billion for a year.

Naturally, such a scenario has members of Congress concerned. “The cost of the troop increase could be significantly higher than what the Administration has been saying in the press,” said Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. ” We will want to carefully investigate just how big the President’s troop increase really is.”

Could this be yet another case of the Bush Administration’s “fuzzy math?”