18.07.2018 | NATO “Burden Sharing”: The Need for Strategy and Force Plans, Not Meaningless Percentage Goals
by Anthony H. Cordesman - CSIS
NATO’s July Ministerial meeting will be one of the most divisive meetings in the Alliance’s history. Regardless of whether NATO can cover its divisions up with some kind of public façade, the meeting will occur at time when President Trump’s confrontational bargaining style has divided the U.S. from its allies over other issues like trade and tariffs, how to deal with Russia, the JCPOA agreement with Iran, refugees, the search for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, and the environment. Transatlantic unity is at something approaching a record low.
The most immediate issue for NATO will burdensharing as measured in terms of defense spending. President Trump has put intense pressure on America’s allies to meet NATO’s two major public goals: spending 2% of each country’s GDP on defense, and 20% of defense spending on equipment purchases. This has led some countries to make token increase in the percentage of their GDP they spend on defense, but most fall far short of this goal.
President Trump is all too correct in calling for more European effort, but he has focused on the wrong measures of burdensharing, and not on the need for changes in strategy, force planning, and spending on the forces actually needed to deter and defense.
This is scarcely the fault of President Trump. He has inherited a Department of Defense that had virtually abandoned program budgeting and efforts to honestly assess and cost the portion of U.S. forces and defense spending that goes to the defense of Europe. He has also inherited a situation where NATO heads of state, defense ministers and the political structure of the alliance focuses on these two meaningless and disruptive goals.
Read the report at the address: https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/180716_NATO_Burden_Sharing.Update_0.pdf?RQ_vhGPgO34IZV_4v2DJqFPGB9zFUJiX