Donald Trump’s controversial plan to force nations to pay the full cost of stationing US forces on their soil, and 50 percent on top of it, is something the Defence Department hasn’t brought up in talks with its European allies, Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs, said Wednesday, as cited by The Hill.
“My understanding is that rhetoric came from conversations from the Pacific, it’s not a conversation we’ve had in my portfolio at all”, Wheelbarger told lawmakers during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, prompting Committee Chairman Adam Smith to weigh in, saying the plan is “a monumentally stupid approach”.
“Our troops are present in these other countries primarily for our benefit, at least for mutual benefit”, Smith said. “It’s incredibly strategically important for us to have that presence…. If we start pushing our allies away, I think that’s a huge mistake", he explained at length.
Countries that permanently host American troops on their land traditionally pay some part of the costs to house and equip the military contingent, although payment varies from country to country. For instance, Japan and South Korea make cash contributions, others, including Germany, pay by footing the bill for land, infrastructure, and construction of facilities for the troops, which are also exempt from taxes and customs duties.
However, Trump has insisted several times that footing the bills is not enough on the part of the US’ European allies.
The White House is now drafting fresh regulations that Japan and Germany, plus potentially other countries where US troops are stationed, pay the full price of keeping troops on their soil, plus another 50 percent payment for the privilege of having them there, according to an array of reports that suggest the new formula may stipulate that the countries in question will be obliged to pay five times higher a price than they currently do.