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Pentagon chief: No plan to charge allies ‘cost+50 percent’ for troop presence

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan speaks to members of the Military Reporters and Editors Association during their annual convention at the Navy League Building in Arlington, Va., Oct. 26, 2018. Deputy Shanahan spoke to highlight and describe the U.S. Department of Defense’s reform efforts. (U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/Department of Defense)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has rejected reports that the Pentagon plans to force allies to pay sharply higher costs for the right to host U.S. forces on their territory.

Shanahan on March 14 told the Senate Armed Services Committee that allies did need to pay their fair share of the cost of having U.S. troops in their country, but added that compensation often comes in differing forms — including providing support for war in places such as Afghanistan.

U.S. news media had reported that President Donald Trump was pushing a “cost-plus-50 percent” formula for countries such as Germany, Japan, Italy, and South Korea, and others to compensate Washington for U.S. troop deployments.

According to the reports, the formula would mean a hosting country would pay the total cost of housing U.S. troops, plus pay a premium of another 50 percent for the privilege of having them on their territory.

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But Shanahan told the Senate panel the reports were “erroneous.

“We’re not going to run a business and we’re not going to run a charity,” Shanahan said.

“Payment comes in lots of different forms. At the end of the day, people need to carry their fair share,” he said.

“Not everyone can contribute. It is not about ‘cost-plus-50 percent.'”

Trump has often criticized NATO allies, Japan, and South Korea for not contributing enough to the costs for keeping U.S. bases in their countries.