£2.2bn Army boot sale funds Iraq and Afghanistan wars 07.07.07 London Evening Standard Experts predict the cost of the Iraq war to the British taxpayer will exceed £1 billion The Ministry of Defence has sold off historic barracks and land worth more than £2.2 billion to fund the spiralling cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Figures show ministers have met about half the cost of the conflicts by selling armed forces assets, including accommodation, airstrips, sports fields, military hospitals and firing ranges. The true cost of the invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein and driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan has never officially been released, but the respected Iraq Analysis Group has estimated that the MoD has spent in the region of £5 billion to fund the wars. Critics claim the money raked in by the Treasury should have been spent on better housing and equipment for troops. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that since 1998, Defence Estates - the MoD organisation responsible for managing land and buildings - sold assets totalling £2.2 billion, including 12,446 hectares of land for housing and business developments. Chelsea Barracks has been sold to housing developers for a reported £900 million. Nearly 150 years of military tradition will come to an end when the prime location between Sloane Square and the Thames is vacated next year. The Duke of York Barracks in Chelsea fetched £94 million. Thousands of married quarters up and down the country have been snapped up by developers, as have former aerodromes. The Second World War airfield at RAF Hendon is being transformed into one of the country's biggest residential estates. The figures were uncovered by Lord Trefgarne, a former Conservative defence minister under Margaret Thatcher. He said: "I kept noticing from snippets in the press that famous and historic buildings in which our armed forces have been based for centuries were being sold to property developers. I have to say I am staggered by the findings." Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: "At a time when thousands of military personnel are living in sub-standard accommodation, it is shameful for assets to be sold off to pay for the illegal war in Iraq." Alan Simpson, a senior Labour backbencher, said: "If surplus assets are to be sold off it has to be on the basis that it improves the quality of support that is given to troops." The Mail has repeatedly highlighted how thousands of service personnel and their families have been forced to live in squalor, enduring ageing barracks with leaking roofs, broken boilers, cracked windows and damp. Some accommodation is so run-down it has been condemned. Meanwhile, soldiers with horrific battlefield injuries are treated on NHS wards because the Government closed specialist military hospitals to save money. And troops have been forced to buy their own items of kit such as sleeping bags, boots and rucksacks because they felt the Army issue was inadequate. Experts predict the cost of the Iraq war to the British taxpayer will exceed £1 billion this year for the first time since the invasion in 2003.