The 2018 National Defense Strategy elevated security cooperation in stressing the importance of “Strengthening alliances and attracting new partners.” This has typically been an area of strength for the United States in ensuring U.S. superiority in an era of strategic competition. However, countervailing priorities in the current U.S. administration challenge this formulation.
As we reach the endgame of 2018, it is hard to be sanguine about the state of defense. DoD leadership should be commended for pushing forward with daily business amid myriad distractions and obstacles as their approach has led to greater normalcy compared to counterparts at other agencies. Yet far-reaching changes are necessary to advance the defense agenda laid out by Secretary Mattis.
The National Defense Strategy calls for “modernization of key capabilities through sustained, predictable budgets,” yet the unclassified summary and FY 2019 budget request fail to show how the Department of Defense will fund such a priority in the face of long-term, strategic competition with China and Russia.
Discussion over transatlantic security spending has increasingly focused on whether NATO members are spending 2% of their GDP on defense and the merits of 2% as a metric for assessing burden sharing. In addition to analyzing current NATO metrics, this report examines several alternatives that provide a broader understanding of collective security contributions and could improve the rigor of security spending analysis.
The official 2 percent threshold, while mandated at the 2014 Wales Summit, has long been understood as an unofficial spending target for NATO members. According to 2017 estimates illustrated in the graphic, only four of the 28 NATO member states meet the 2 percent spending level while 15 are expected to meet it by 2024..
The CSIS report compiles NATO member and partner countries’ troop contributions across a range of military operations. Where data was publicly available and reliable, it measures troop contribution as a percentage of the total active duty force to normalize and compare between countries with militaries of different size.