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Honorable Mark Sanford

Representing the 1st District of South Carolina

NATO's Fair Share

Mar 3, 2017
Blog Post

Can I circle back around to the president’s Joint Address to Congress?

One of the things he mentioned was that he believed our allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should live up to the agreement. I agree and this would mean that they would take on a greater share of the financial obligations with regard to their own defense.

Under the category of giving credit where it’s due, I believe President Trump is not only right on this issue, but that the good cop, bad cop approach seems to be beginning to work here.

It was not widely reported by the media, but Germany has already announced an increase of 20,000 troops. This is an important and significant step. The U.S. spends $410,000 per troop per year for everything from pay to equipment, and this means for the US to do the same would cost American taxpayers about $8.2 billion a year.

President Trump has repeatedly said that other NATO members haven’t been paying their fair share on military spending, and the numbers support his claim. The NATO Treaty requires member nations to spend at least 2% of their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on defense, but only 5 of the 28 nations in NATO are currently doing so. For instance, France spends 1.78%, Germany spends 1.19%, and the average for NATO nations other than the U.S. is only 1.43%. By contrast, the U.S. spends nearly double the required amount at about 3.5% of GDP. That’s roughly $583 billion a year...and 65% of all military spending within NATO. To bring all these numbers to a personal level, we spent $1,865 for the military last year per U.S. citizen, while for NATO Europe, that figure was just $446.

Considered altogether, if the other member nations of NATO were hitting their 2% GDP targets, they would be spending $101 billion more combined on their military budgets.