National Security

NATO Spending Estimates Find US Is Still Footing Much Of The Bill

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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The U.S. spent significantly more on defense compared to the rest of NATO in 2016, despite efforts from the U.S. and Europe to encourage higher spending among the allies, according to a report released Monday.

The report’s estimates found that European NATO members spent 1.47 percent of GDP on defense, while the U.S. spent 3.61. In total, the alliance spent a total of 2.43 percent on GDP in 2016. NATO requires members to spend at least two percent of GDP on defense per year, however, only five states are expected to meet that goal.

“All allies should reach this goal,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday, during the release of his annual report on the state of the alliance. “All allies have agreed to do it at the highest level.”

President Donald Trump, a known critic of NATO, has said multiple times during his nascent presidency that he supports the alliance, but that the rest of the members need to pay their fair share. Stoltenberg prioritized increasing members’ defense spending well before Trump came into office, but the president made it a top issue during and after his campaign.

“A lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States,” Trump said during an interview with the Times of London in January. “With that being said, NATO is very important to me. There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to. Five. It’s not much.”

The U.S., Greece, Estonia, United Kingdom and Poland met their requirements for 2016, but key NATO members were not even close, in some cases. Canada was one of the lowest spenders, coming in at just 1.02 percent of GDP. Germany did not fare much better, with 1.2 percent. France was also under the mark, at 1.79 percent.

Fortunately, Stoltenberg’s efforts have not totally been in vain. NATO Europe and Canada posted a significant 3.8 percent increase overall increase in spending in 2016, a significant leap from 2015, which saw only a small 0.5 percent rise.

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