WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wants foreign allies to cover all the costs of hosting American troops at overseas bases plus pay an additional premium for the privilege of having them there, according to a Bloomberg News report citing numerous administration officials.
The move has the potential to further test the United States’ already strained relationship with European and Pacific allies, many of whom Trump has blasted for not doing enough to shoulder the costs of security missions worldwide.
According to the report, administration officials have begun drawing up plans for countries like Germany, Japan and other allies to pay the full price of American troops stationed there plus an additional 50 percent fee for the privilege of their presence.
Bloomberg said individuals briefed on the idea say Pentagon leaders have already been asked to calculate the costs involved while the specific proposals are being finalized.
The news comes just days after the administration cancelled annual large-scale military exercises with South Korea, activities that Trump has repeatedly decried as too expensive for the United States even as Pentagon officials have defended their value.
Last month, officials in South Korea agreed to increase their share of the costs to station about 28,500 U.S. troops there, up more than 8 percent to nearly $1 billion.
Trump has repeatedly criticized NATO members for not investing enough in defense, even as multiple NATO countries have increased their military spending in recent years.
Last month, following a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, Trump complained that the United States spends “hundreds of millions of dollars on exercises and we don't get reimbursed” from allies.
“We're spending a tremendous amount of money on many countries, protecting countries that are very rich that can certainly afford to pay us and then some,” he said. “Those countries know that it's not right, but nobody has ever asked them before. But I've asked them and we're gaining a lot of money.”
Officials did not give any timeline when the new troop costs policies may be formally announced.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.