Frustrated by its allies’ lagging military spending, the Trump administration is reportedly drawing up demands that countries where US troops are stationed pay the full cost – and then some – for the ‘privilege’.
The White House is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan, South Korea and eventually every other country ‘hosting’ US troops on its soil pay “cost plus 50” – 150 percent – for their upkeep, including the soldiers’ salaries, Bloomberg reports, citing “a dozen” sources in the Trump administration.
The Pentagon was asked to gather data on the cost of keeping US troops abroad and countries’ contributions toward these expenses, several officials – again, anonymously – told AP on Friday. Countries whose policies “align closely” with the US would get an unspecified discount, according to these sources.
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President Donald Trump is pushing the proposal personally, according to Bloomberg, going so far as to demand “cost plus 50″ in a note to National Security Advisor John Bolton, when the US was negotiating the status of 28,500 or so troops in South Korea. The two countries eventually agreed on Seoul paying $924 million in 2019, up from $830 million the year before.
By way of comparison, Germany currently pays 28 percent of the cost of US troops being based on its soil – about $1 billion-a-year – according to Rand Corporation researcher David Ochmanek. At a recent congressional hearing, the top US general in Europe asked for even more troops, citing a “threat” from Russia. This was in addition to US demands for European NATO members to buy more US-made weaponry.
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Starting when he was on the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly called for US allies to compensate Washington for the privilege of being ‘defended’ by Americans, but this reported proposal is the most specific suggestion as to how that would be done.