Ministry of Defence insists it does meet Nato's defence spending target
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Feb 16, 2017,
Feb 16, 2017, 6:43
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought Wednesday to reassure USA military allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as the Trump administration addressed the fallout of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn's ouster as President Trump's national security adviser.
"No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values", he told the alliance's 27 other defense ministers, according to a transcript. During his campaign, Trump said he would consider cutting ties with nations that failed to contribute the 2 percent of gross domestic product that members are expected to spend on defense. The American ships had been moved, the Pentagon said, to "ensure maritime security"-in other words, to show force without the risks of doing what Mattis was evidently prepared to do last week: directly confront Iran in a way that could have set off a deadly military engagement". President Trump often made that point during his upstart run for the White House, at various times calling the alliance "obsolete" while grousing that its 28 members need to pay "their fair share".
There are now only five countries that meet the spending commitment: The US, Britain, Estonia, Poland and Greece.
Mattis is following what his boss has always said that the U.S. would no longer be the big daddy if other member countries don't fulfil the financial obligations expected from them.
Stoltenberg confirmed that the alliance is planning an additional increase in its military presence in the Black Sea region.
"Thank you very much for the warm welcome back to my second home", Mattis said during a brief appearance with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
Stoltenberg said that Latvia, Lithuania and Romania are moving towards the target, and Germany is also increasing spending, but noted that "some allies are still really struggling". "You've watched as the character of war over this last dozen years has changed itself, and as the character of war changes, so must the character of the militaries that address them", Mattis told reporters Tuesday. He will deliver the familiar message with more punch and with a clear implication that this time the USA administration expects to see prompt action.
"As President Trump has stated, he has strong support for NATO", Mattis said.
Mattis recognized Europe's worries and the desire for clarity on America's commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
"After many years with steep cuts in defense spending, we have turned a corner. defense spending in real terms has increased by 3.8 percent among European allies and Canada".