Trump caused consternation when — in the presidential election run-up — he declared NATO "obsolete" and said that countries which did not pay their way would not get as much support from other alliance members that did. NATO has set a target that each member should spend two percent of GDP on defense.
"We strongly support NATO; we only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing — many of them have not been even close," Trump said, March 2017.
However, he is likely to show support for the organization — especially after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he would support is calls for all member states to step up to the mark on defense spending and cooperation.
"Today, we will adopt an action plan to enhance NATO's contributions. Our largest military operation ever was launched in Afghanistan in a direct response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. 13,000 NATO troops continue to train Afghan forces," Stoltenberg told reporters, May 25, ahead of the summit.
"We will assess our level of support and the future of the mission. Training local forces is one of the best weapons in the fight against terrorism. We are already training Iraqi forces. And our AWACS surveillance planes provide information to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS [Daesh]," he said.
"We will now establish a new intelligence fusion cell at the headquarters addressing terrorism, including foreign fighters. And we will also appoint a special coordinator for NATO's efforts fighting terrorism. So this is both a strong political message of unity in the fight against terrorism, but also a part of an Action Plan where we are providing more practical support to the efforts fighting global terrorism, including addressing our mission in Afghanistan."
Defense Spending Targets
Stoltenberg said the second item of the agenda — which will deliberately play into Trump's hands — will be the finances of NATO.
He said that NATO will push to spread the burden — resources and financial — across all member states so that the US — as Trump has repeatedly said — does not have to be relied upon so heavily in the future.