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Shanahan denies Trump demanding bigger payments from allies for bases

March 14, 2019 GMT

Reports that President Trump is demanding a sharp increase in payments from allies who host U.S. forces around the world are wrong, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told a Senate hearing Thursday.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services committee Thursday, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan insisted that the Pentagon is not planning a boost in the funding formula under which host nations would pay the full cost of basing American forces, plus an additional 50 percent.

“We won’t do ‘cost-plus-50’” Mr. Shanahan told Sen. Dan Sullivan, Alaska Republican, who asked about news reports that Mr. Trump was pushing the change.

The news reports “are erroneous,” Mr. Shanahan responded.

“We’re not going to run a business and we’re not going to run a charity. The important part is people pay their fair share and payment comes in lots of different forms,” he added. “It is not about cost-plus-50 percent.”

Bloomberg first reported internal White House discussions on how to make allied nations who have requested a U.S. presence in times of peace cover costs to host troops. Mr. Trump has long complained that allies are not bearing their share of the financial burden for the American forces who help protect them.

Reacting to the news reports, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, Washington state Democrat, denounced the proposal as a “monumentally stupid approach.”

“Our troops are present in these other countries primarily for our benefit, at least for a mutual benefit,” Rep. Adam Smith, said during a committee hearing Wednesday.