3Center or American Progress | What’s Next or NATO?
alliance’s deense spending arge o 2 percen o GDP.
Tis lack o miliary invesmen ousidehe Unied Saes was clear in he Libyan operaion and in Aghanisan, where many membersexhibied major deciencies in heir miliary capabiliies.Secreary o Deense Rober Gaes dramaically summed up hese deciencies in his vale-dicory speech o NAO members in Brussels in June 2011.
Accordingo Gaes, he European miliaries, despie couning more han 2 millionpeople in uniorm, have diculy susaining a deploymen o ewer han45,000 roops in Aghanisan.Tis deciency is due in par o excessive personnel coss across much o healliance. Te Unied Saes allocaes roughly one-hird o he deense budgeo personnel coss; 19 o he oher 27 member saes allocae more han hal o heir deense spending o personnel coss.
Tis allocaion o resources isparicularly unsound in counries ha have demonsraed a shorage o crii-cal suppor asses such as helicopers, ranspor aircra, mainenance, andinelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabiliies.Gaes blunly warned ha unless he Europeans reversed course andenhanced heir operaional capabiliies, U.S. poliical leaders mighreconsider wheher he sraegic reurn on invesmen in NAO was worh he cos o coninued membership.Bu close analysis reveals ha Gaes’s concerns are overblown, andhey have no been echoed by his successor, Secreary o Deense LeonPaneta. Te imbalance in miliary expendiures and capabiliies beweenhe Unied Saes and he oher members is no a criical problem, and by ocusing only on comparaive spending oals we ignore exensive ben-es he Unied Saes receives rom is membership.rue, he non-U.S. NAO counries spend abou one-hird less o heirGDP on deense han he Unied Saes, and he Unied Saes currenly accouns or abou 75 percen o NAO member saes’ oal deenseexpendiures, up rom 50 percen a decade ago.
Bu i makes sense or he Unied Saes o spend more: I is a global power wih globalineress, and non-U.S. NAO deense expendiures sill currenly accoun or 18 percen o global deense spending, more han China and Russia combined.
Meanwhile, he U.S. deense budge has grown in real erms over he pas decade o heighs noseen since World War II, a siuaion Gaes himsel has reerred o as a “gusher” and which skewshe expecaions and assessmens o NAO criics. While NAO member saes should meehe alliance’s goal o 2 percen o GDP devoed o deense, i is no realisic o hold our allies oour curren inaed levels o deense spending.
ChinaUnited Kingdom*France*JapanRussiaSaudi ArabiaGermany*IndiaBrazilUnitedStates*
Top ten defense budgets
In billions of US dollars
* Notes NATO top ten defense spenderSource: International Institute for Strategic Studies, “Military Balance 2012”, (2012),available at: http://www.iiss.org/publications/military-balance/the-military-balance-2012/press-statement/