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 ShanahanOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Trump defense chief: US may send more troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran 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 SullivanHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks Senators introduce bill to prevent border agency from selling personal data 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 TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' 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.