With troops gradually returning home, the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seems to be in sight. And it would be easy to believe the significant war costs — estimated to be $4.4 trillion by the time the wars conclude — would be winding down without any further capital costs.

Unfortunately, more than $22 billion in related capital costs already are planned, including the upgrade of 24 global positioning system satellites during the next 12 years to replace aging units. The old satellites no longer provide adequately strong signals to counter deliberate interference and for troops to obtain latitude and longitudinal coordinates to communicate units’ locations, during war — or even non-combat — situations.

The Department of Defense plans to launch a total of 50 satellites through 2030 at an average rate of two to three satellites each year starting in 2012, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Ongoing costs from the war also will include short-term and long-term medical costs for the 365,000 troops maimed, injured or otherwise incapacitated by the war. Those costs are enough for the United States to consider adopting an isolationist mentality so Americans can get back to focusing on righting their own ship rather than trying to remedy every problem that every other country encounters.

Isolationism was preferred in the 1920s following America’s participation in World War I. In those days, America was in war to protect its interests and defend freedom. Today, however, it seems the U.S. wants to control everything it possibly can. Meanwhile many aspects of American society have suffered. Finding a happy medium between today’s all-encompassing economic and political initiatives and those of isolationism would be a good goal to shoot for.

Many businesses and organizations find if they spread themselves too thin they don’t do anything well. The companies who succeed following getting too big learn how to focus on their priorities rather than trying to be all things to all people. The federal government could learn a lesson from private business in that regard.

Focusing on efforts that support and advance America’s interest is a far cry from being the world’s security force. Investing in the satellites is good, if it is good for the United States. Self-interest isn’t a bad thing. The federal government could see its expenses decrease significantly if it learned how to better focus on what is good for Americans rather than everyone else.

— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher