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Defense Secretary: US Won't Charge Nations 'Cost Plus 50' for Bases

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks with the media as he waits for the arrival of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon, Jan. 28, 2019, in Washington.

Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan has flatly denied that the United States would ask nations that house U.S. troops to pay the full cost of U.S. service members deployed on their territory, plus 50 percent more for the privilege of American defense.

"We won't do 'Cost Plus 50' percent," Shanahan told lawmakers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, adding that reports on this issue were "erroneous."

U.S. maintains hundreds of bases

Last week, media reports said that President Donald Trump was considering ramping up financial costs for wealthy allies such as Japan, South Korea and Germany to house American bases. The reports said the allies would be required to pay 150 percent of the basing costs.

"We're not going to run a business, and we're not going to run a charity," Shanahan said Thursday. "The important part is people pay their fair share, and payment comes in lots of different forms."

The United States maintains hundreds of military bases in dozens of countries around the world. These bases allow the military to project U.S. power and protect U.S. interests, while also defending allies from threats.

Trump has prioritized pushing allies to pay more money for defense, often singling out NATO member states for not "immediately" meeting an alliance pledge to dedicate 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product to military matters.

The pledge, made under the Obama administration, called on NATO members to reach the 2 percent goal by 2024.

'Cost Plus 50' not being discussed

Earlier in the week, Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee that charging "Cost Plus 50" for U.S. bases in Europe was not being discussed.

"My understanding is that rhetoric came from conversations from the Pacific. It's not a conversation we've had in my portfolio at all," she said.