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'
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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary 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 SullivanRomney, Collins, Murkowski only Senate GOP holdouts on Graham's impeachment resolution GOP worries it's losing impeachment fight Senate GOP introduces resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry 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.

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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 TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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.