Pentagon chief calls reports of charges to allies erroneous: 'We won't do cost plus 50'

Pentagon chief calls reports of charges to allies erroneous: 'We won't do cost plus 50'
© Getty Images

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanWhite House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated Overnight Defense: Top Marine warns border deployment could hurt readiness | McSally aims for sexual assault reforms in defense bill | House to vote on measure opposing transgender ban | New warning over F-35 sale to Turkey On The Money: Trump rolls dice on uncertain economy | 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington | Watchdog group pushes 2020 candidates for 10 years of tax returns MORE on Thursday said the Pentagon will not ask ally nations to pay the full cost of stationing U.S. forces on their soil, plus 50 percent more.

Shanahan was asked by Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanRepublicans defend McCain amid Trump attacks Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget Pentagon chief calls reports of charges to allies erroneous: 'We won't do cost plus 50' MORE (R-Alaska) during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Trump administration’s so-called cost plus 50 formula.

“Senator, we won’t do cost plus 50 percent,” Shanahan said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Numerous outlets have reported that the administration is drafting new demands that Japan and Germany — and eventually other countries where U.S. troops are based — pay the full price of keeping U.S. forces in their nation, plus another 50 percent payment for the special right to host them.

The new formula, first reported by Bloomberg, could mean that the United States would ask countries to pay at least five times more than they do now.

Shanahan said those reports are “erroneous.”

“We’re not going to run a business and we’re not going to run a charity,” he told lawmakers.

“The important part is that people pay their fair share and payment comes in lots of different forms. [It] could be contributions, like in Afghanistan. But at the end of the day, people need to carry their fair share and not everyone can contribute, but it is not about the cost plus 50 percent.”

Countries that host permanent U.S. military installations traditionally pay a portion of the costs to house and equip U.S. forces, but the payment comes in various forms. Japan and South Korea make cash contributions, while Germany pays by covering the bill for land, infrastructure and construction of the military facilities, as well as waiving taxes and customs duties.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE, however, has repeatedly said such payments aren’t enough and has reportedly pressed the cost plus 50 model for months.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, have lambasted the idea as disastrous for American diplomacy.

The topic also came up Wednesday during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, where Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs, said that Trump’s cost plus 50 formula hasn’t been broached in conversations with European allies.

“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.