How much are we “into” NATO? Check the Data!

picture1There has been much discussion about whether or not we should restructure NATO, given the change in defense posture and the ever-growing “nation agnostic” threats that currently exist such as ISIS, cyberthreats, etc.  Given that we are part of NATO (since 1949) and that we conduct joint exercises in Europe, as well as contributing to the defense of Europe, we should probably know how much we have invested into the organization.

The chart below depicts the percent that our defense expenditures contribute to the NATO defense posture.  As you can see, we have NEVER contributed less than 56% of the NATO budget, although these data did have some differences based on NATO financial reports in different years (mainly because of different definitions of NATO vs NATO/Russian contribution).  However, I took this data straight from the NATO documents depicting the financial figures (


US Defense Contributions to NATO (See citation in text)

What does it all mean?  If you take a look at the US contributions vs European contributions you see a gradual increase in most countries contributions, but most come from the US.  It might be time to reduce our overall expenditures in this arena and have the Europeans take on more of the cost.  Germany seems to be coming up to speed, but given their stature in Europe as the center of economic development, it would seem they could become the main contributor, along with France, Spain, and Italy. Fair contributions based on nation involvement seems to be the best way of equalizing the funding of this very important organization but that is said without any real background information or political/economic information on why we have contributed so much to NATO.  This data speaks only on percentage (which incidentally runs in the billions of dollars per year).

The NATO council would have to meet and discuss a plan for future joint defense planning including resources that accompany this plan.  Until then, we will continue to contribute to an organization that has been a major part of the defense of Europe and has grown since the breakup of the Warsaw Pact (NATO’s original foe).

But in the meantime, the data presented shows a distinct difference between the US and European nations in defense contributions to an organization that entails the “North Atlantic” not just the US.  Maybe it is time for NATO to reorganize and restructure to better meet the future need of European Defense.

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