The news signals that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will not markedly depart from Trump’s policy, itself a continuation of former President Barack Obama’s, to pressure NATO allies to put more resources toward defense.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to press NATO allies to meet their goal of spending at least 2 percent on defense programs during next week’s defense ministerial, continuing a policy from the previous administration while softening the tone.
The message: Austin will “reinforce the view that collective security is a shared responsibility,” and part of that is “an adequate level of defense spending,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Friday, pointing to the alliance members’ commitment to invest 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024.
However, Austin will also recognize that many NATO allies are already meeting or exceeding that 2 percent threshold, “and many that aren’t there yet are striving mightily to get there,” Kirby said.
After former President Donald Trump repeatedly disparaged NATO and threatened to pull the United States out of the alliance, President Joe Biden has signaled he intends to reset the relationship.
Austin “wants to revitalize to the alliance and again I think you will see that overall that will be the message that he sends, that we’re better when we act together,” Kirby said.
Context: The news signals that Austin will not markedly depart from Trump’s policy, itself a continuation of former President Barack Obama’s, to pressure NATO allies to put more resources toward defense.
Trump focused almost obsessively on increasing NATO defense spending, even going so far as to order the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from Germany while accusing the government of not spending enough on defense.
Just weeks after taking office, Biden ordered the military to freeze any withdrawals from Germany pending a review of U.S. forces worldwide.
NATO spending on defense is increasing: Trump took credit for increased NATO defense spending over his term, an effort that began in the Obama administration.
Over the last six years, NATO allies have upped their defense spending by $130 billion, according to U.S. envoy to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison.
France and Norway last year became the latest NATO countries to reach the 2 percent threshold, joining eight other nations: Britain, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the United States. However, the 20 other allies did not make the cut.