Above and Beyond: Non-NATO Spending by Members
Not all defense spending by NATO member countries goes toward joint NATO activities or missions.
1. If all defense spending by all NATO countries, inside or outside of official NATO costs or operations, is tallied up, the United States spends 72% of that combined amount.
2. This total measure of the share of defense spending by member countries also includes expenditures that go beyond NATO projects.
3. Total spending notably includes the many non-NATO operations that are undertaken independently of the organization.
4. A few examples of non-NATO operations by members include French and U.S. operations in West Africa or Turkey’s military activities in Syria and Cyprus.
5. This cumulative 72% U.S. share of all defense spending by NATO countries is probably what President Trump had in mind, when he incorrectly talked about the United States providing “the lion’s share” of the alliance’s budget.
6. More than half of all non-U.S. defense expenditures by countries within the alliance come from just three other countries: France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
7. In addition to shared spending, NATO member countries are also required to raise their overall defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2024.
8. The median is about 1.1% right now and only a handful of countries — such as the UK, France, Poland and Greece — are already close to or beyond the 2% target.
9. Unsurprisingly, the United States is one of the members that has already surpassed that 2% threshold.
10. The United States spent 3.3% of its GDP on defense in 2016, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Sources: The Globalist Research Center, NATO, Washington Post, IISS