While some NATO countries are slowly increasing their share of defense spending, several others are falling short of the minimum spending goal. Since the 2014 summit in Wales, six NATO member nations have stopped a decline in their defense spending, with another five countries meeting the established goal of the defense budget being equal or better than two percent of the country’s gross domestic product, said Gen. Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. In addition, seven member nations have “very credible internal plans” to reach the two percent goal, Breedlove said. Still, the United States accounts for 72 percent of overall allied defense spending, amounting to slightly more than 3.5 percent of national GDP. Breedlove said other NATO countries need to “do their part” to finance the collective defense and help address frustration within the US that it is carrying too much of the NATO burden. Under the guidelines for NATO, members need to spend 20 percent of their defense budget on recapitalizing capabilities, especially “low density, high demand” capabilities, such as rotary wing lift; precision strike; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, Breedlove said during a Tuesday briefing at the Pentagon. Breedlove declined to name the countries, but said they are “working hard on some of those capabilities to some degree.” (See also: Allies Slow the Fiscal Bleed, Following the Money to Europe.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.