Small Wars Journal

President: NATO Member Nations Must Increase Defense Spending

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 3:12pm

President: NATO Member Nations Must Increase Defense Spending

Terri Moon Cronk - DoD News

President Donald J. Trump called for NATO member nations to step up and pay their “fair share” of defense spending in the fight against global terrorism.

The president made his remarks today in Brussels at the unveiling of the NATO 9/11 Memorial during a stop at the new NATO headquarters building during his first overseas trip since taking office in January.

“We remember and mourn those nearly 3,000 innocent people who were brutally murdered by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001,” Trump said. “Our NATO allies responded swiftly and decisively, invoking for the first time in its history the Article 5 collective defense commitments.”

He said the May 22 attack on Manchester, England, demonstrates “the depths of the evil we face with terrorism,” and called it a “barbaric and vicious attack upon our civilization.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack that killed at least 22 people and injured approximately 120 others, according to published reports.

POTUS Calls On NATO Nations

The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism, immigration, threats from Russia and those along NATO's eastern and southern borders, the president said.

“These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct with [NATO] Secretary [General Jens] Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.”

But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should for their defense, Trump said, noting, “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years.”

During the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined, he said. “If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves.”

2 Percent GDP Not Sufficient

Yet, he warned, it should be recognized that with chronic underpayments and growing terrorism threats, even 2 percent of the GDP from member nations is insufficient to close the gaps in modernizing, readiness and the size of forces.

“We have to make up for the many years lost. Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today's very real and very vicious threats,” Trump said, adding that if NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, NATO would be stronger than it is today, particularly from the threat of terrorism.

“Wherever they exist in our societies, we must drive [terrorists] out and never ever let them back in. This call for driving out terrorism is a message I took to a historic gathering of Arab and Muslim leaders across the region, hosted by Saudi Arabia,” the president said.

Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks, or the horror of Manchester and many other places will continue, he said.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)


J Harlan

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 9:02am

There may small parts of NATO that deal with terrorism but not much. The agencies that do- police, immigration, border control, intelligence etc. aren't counted towards the 2%. These areas don't count toward defense spending as if it matters whether an armed sentry is a cop, soldier or security guard.

"Defense spending" is also uniformly under reported. Veterans’ costs and the interest paid on the loans to pay for defense are never included.

Is it unfair to Americans that Germany doesn't pay more for the defense of Europe? No, because the Germans don't see a threat. The US defense budget is per capita bigger but most has nothing to do with NATO and much goes toward the "empire" which most Germans don't care about. Most (rightly) see the 2% goal as just a sales gimmick to keep money flowing to the military regardless of real security needs.


Sun, 05/28/2017 - 6:38pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

You must have missed the gist of the article...

Outlaw 09

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 3:27am

In reply to by Azor

Interesting comment in that NATO now views Russia as the existential threat not IS, not AQ but Russia..

The ongoing current exercises virtually all over Europe are around several key issues..interoperability, using each NATO partners internal strenghts ie one has tanks, one has heavy vehicle carriers, one has infantry, one has great logistical support and on and on....

How to get them to the right place and right time is what is now being field tested......

And from the initial experiences it seems to be working especially fielding different units under a different national commander...

Out of these exercises you will see a NATO starting to unify its defense innovation and production around the individual national strengths which in the end will lower defense costs for the entire group...

Something Trump and his advisors are evidently not seeing even with McMaster as NSA...

And unnoticed by Trump and company NATO is pushing back on Russian info warfare and cyber warfare in ways the US is not.....

This article from Der Spiegel illustrates why 2% is indeed, "the bare minimum":

Basically, European NATO countries can do more with less money if they form collective formations and if each country specializes.

For all of Der Spiegel's disdain for European nationalism and Euro-skepticism, this was the same paper that exposed the Bundeswehr's terrible state in the early 1970s.

Like it or not, Russia can do more with less, surge faster, and secure local superiority if not supremacy, on both a quantitative and qualitative basis. Unfortunately, Russia can do all this precisely where NATO is and will always be weakest.

Despite suggestions that the Americans, Britons and Poles have turned away from the West, the fact is that these countries will all be there if Putin rolls the dice on Latvia. As Der Spiegel notes, at least they "can" be there, which is half the battle.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 11:55am

Trumps altered state of reality...this maybe what he thinks he achieved by bashing them in front of the NATO Hdqs BUT that is not what the MSM of the various countries are carrying as news from NATO or G7.......

Not exactly sure in the Trump WH is telling him this....?????

Donald J. Trump‏
Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger.

Trump still fantasizing NATO countries pay us. Ignorant & unteachable, delusional or just lying?

Outlaw 09

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 1:06am

After two days we see that the Trump WH is in total chaos...simply do not understand how NATO works...simply stated we are reviewing Russian sanctions and then walked it backwards until they tripped over themselves and then backtracked on Trumps statements about Germany...and created turmoil in a NATO meeting that was designed to actual appease Trump....

And this was a clear and concise FP national level strategy???

Chaos nothing more nothing less.....

Outlaw 09

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 2:56am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Evidently Trumps advisors did not brief him on the following....

Russia plotted to assassinate the PM of Montenegro, Duško Marković. Instead of rallying NATO to punish Russia, Trump pushed Marković bodily aside and did not even apologize for it.

While Balkan media reacted with indignation -- running headlines like "America First" -- Markovic shrugged off the slight.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 3:06am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Not exactly sure what the DoD reporter was seeing and hearing....


Trump NATO remarks unsettle some: "Diplomatically, the speech was inept at best and deliberately insulting at worst"

Washington (CNN)When President Donald Trump lectured NATO members on their contributions to the trans-Atlantic alliance, he demonstrated a lack of understanding about how the group works and potentially alienated the US' closest allies, analysts said.
The speech comes at a time when Washington's longstanding partnerships with the UK and Israel have endured friction over intelligence gaffes by the new administration.
"Diplomatically, the speech was inept at best and deliberately insulting at worst," said Jeff Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Trump's remarks Thursday, alongside his continued misrepresentation of how the alliance works and his failure to reaffirm US commitment to the group, is likely to further unsettle US allies, sowing doubt about US leadership and possibly making it harder for NATO leaders to convince their people of the need to spend more on defense.
Ivo Daalder, a former US ambassador to NATO, said that "this was a perfectly scripted event to deliver a very simple message that every president of the United States has delivered at the first possible opportunity, which is that the United States stands firmly behind its commitment to the defense of NATO."
"We signed a treaty, we uphold it. It was really easy," Daalder said. "And the fact that he didn't do it was disturbing and will take a long time to overcome in Europe."

Trump's full speech at NATO 9/11 memorial 08:35
Trump was making his first visit to the alliance in Brussels, where leaders had carefully scripted his visit, unveiling a memorial to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to mark the only time NATO has invoked Article 5, which holds that all members will defend any one of them that's attacked.
The NATO-led alliance that came to the United States' aid in Afghanistan and Iraq sent more than 3,000 soldiers home in body bags.
A damaging first
Against this backdrop, the President accused NATO allies of shortchanging US taxpayers by not meeting the shared target of spending 2% of GDP on defense -- a misunderstanding of how the funding system works.
Trump also scored a damaging first, according to Nick Burns, a former US ambassador to NATO under President George W. Bush, by becoming the first president since the group's founding to fail to reaffirm the US commitment to collective defense, the principle that glues the alliance together.

Will Trump change his mind about NATO? 01:51
"This is the first president since 1949 not to mention Article 5," Burns said. "Every president has reaffirmed collective defense and today was the day for him to do it."
Burns said he was "stunned" by the speech. "It was really disappointing," he said. "I support him on asking allies to spend more on defense. But there is a time and a place. And this wasn't it. The lecture was the wrong tone and this was the wrong time." 
It could also damage the US leadership position in NATO, said Burns. The other nations "were looking for a tight embrace and they didn't get it," Burns said. "NATO looks for the US president to lead the alliance... (Trump) doesn't understand that. People now think of Angela Merkel as the leader of the West."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at his closing news conference after the summit defended Trump's message, which he admitted was "blunt."
Asked if he was disappointed that Trump didn't explictly express support for Article 5, he said just by dedicating the 9/11 and Article 5 display he was doing that.
Stoltenberg said there has been a clear message of support for NATO from the President, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Tillerson and Mattis have also recently delivered tough public messages on the need for NATO members to increase defense spending.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 2:40am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

So this Trump anti German attitude voiced publicly yesterday opens up an interesting question is Trump actively working with Russia to cut US German relations????

Severing the US-Germany tie has been the supreme goal of first Soviet and now Russian policy in Europe since 1945.… 

AND DoD reported none of this from yesterday did they??

Outlaw 09

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 2:37am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Trumps visit to EU yesterday was no better where he openly and publicly chastised Germany with the following comment " Germany sells millions of cars to the US...we will stop that...Germany is very bad...very bad"....

BTW...the last time I checked Germany does not sell millions of cars to US..they wished they did but they do not...

He voiced again that US wanted to do bilateral deals with each EU member....

BUT was reminded by both Tusk and Juncker that is not how it works....

Social media response this morning....


Sad actually that a grown man has had this explained to him by first Merkel and now the EU heads...

EU trade deals are done by the EU Commission in the name of the 28 members. Then all 28 must ratify what was negoitated in their names.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 2:30am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

This single comment kind of sums up European MSM reaction to Trumps actions and words yesterday in Brussels....

Putin's fantasy would be an American president chastising NATO & failing to reiterate US commitment to Article 5.
Trump fulfilled it today.

Concerning the shoving of a Nato nation state leader to the side and not even apologizing for it....all caught on video not mentioned though by DoD....

Montenegro's Markovic after being shoved away by Trump: "it is natural that the president of the United States is in the front row."

Outlaw 09

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 2:01am

While Russia plays their info and disinformation war games in Europe as a whole and now fully against Germany after Holland and then France...

DoD does not need to play them as would benefit all had DoD fully and accurately protraited what happened yesterday in Brussels with the Trump offensive attitude and verbal aggression directed against NATO....

Maybe just maybe DoD should be a tad more honest in their reporting....they really do not have to match Russia Today......

Mark Hertling‏

A third of my 38 yrs in the Army was served in & around NATO, a valuable, adaptive alliance. What happened today was embarrassing, saddening.

General Hertling commanded US troops in Europe and Iraq

He had been the Commander USAREUR in 2012 and should know NATO.....

The US President standing in front of a NATO memorial for Sept 11 2001 in their new Hdqs literally bashed all leaders of the 27 members including the newest member Montenegro who just joined over massive Russian pressure.

Seems he simply wanted to forget that the only time NATO has ever triggered Article 5 in the common defense of NATO was Sept 11 support to and for US.....AND he seems to have forgotten that NATO troops have died in AFG, Iraq and Syria as well....

AND he wants more support from NATO in his attempt to eradicate IS from this earth....that will not now happen...

Massive critique has rained down on his actions in Brussels from virtually all European MSM....while it was great sound bites for his voter base it will not win the US any friends inside Europe...and it raises the voices of those that say it is time to ditch the Us and form their own European Army to answer European needs....

Besides it was embarassing to hear a US President utter words that reflect the simple fact he absolutely does not understand how NATO functions much less how funding of NATO works...

NATO is not a paid membership in one of his golf clubs.....