Just The Facts

10 Facts: Sizing Up NATO’s Defense Spending

The euro crisis means NATO militaries are likely to shrink further.

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Takeaways


  • Combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of global defense spending.
  • US defense spending aside, the 27 other NATO countries spent $318.7 billion on defense in 2012.
  • Non-US NATO members have defense expenditures that are more than 3x Russia's total.
  • Crisis-torn Greece is 2nd among NATO countries in terms of defense spending as a % of GDP.

1. Only five NATO member countries spent more than 2% or more of their GDP on defense (as of 2012).

2. They are the United States, Greece (2.5%), United Kingdom (2.5%), France (2.3%) and Turkey (2.3%).

3. Estonia and Poland are close to the 2% level — at 1.9% each.

4. Italy currently spends just 1.7% of its GDP on defense. Given the country’s high debt level, the odds are very low that it would increase defense spending.

5. Germany spends just 1.4% of its GDP on defense.

 
6. Still, the combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world’s defense spending.

7. Leaving U.S. defense spending aside, the 27 other NATO countries spent $318.7 billion on defense.

8. Non-U.S. NATO members have defense expenditures that are more than three times Russia’s total.

9. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s defense spending in 2012 stood at 2.7% of GDP. That is a higher share than 27 of the 28 NATO countries.

10. Crisis-torn Greece is actually second among NATO countries in terms of defense spending as a percentage of GDP, at 2.5%. If anything, that figure is likely to decline in coming years given the many other priorities for rebuilding the Greek economy.

Analysis by The Globalist Research Center. Data credit: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

 

 

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  • H. H. GAFFNEY

    More distortions: if the Greek economy declines by 15-25 percent, whatever the current figure is, and they sustain at least the pay for their existing military personnel, then the proportion of GDP for defense goes up. “Ah, but they are exceeding the goal!” Gee-whiz. And nobody ever says what that 2 percent is really supposed to buy. In NATO history, the day after they all reached 2 percent, the next day it would be raised to 3 percent. No wonder NATO lost the Cold War.